Category Archives: writer


by Steven Gowin

In 1941, my father, 15 years old, his brother 20, and my grandfather farmed a small place in Northern Madison County, Iowa, near the covered bridges.

When Uncle Howard left for the war, my grandfather was pissing foam and running a fever most days. Renal failure had swollen his feet and was killing him.

It all meant that my father, too young for war, was looking after the farm virtually alone. He’d barely graduated high school and got stuck on the failing land when his brother returned from France.

Sometime, in my late teens, though, Dad told me that before the war, before the farm, he’d hoped to become a journalist or writer, the only thing for which he thought he’d had a talent, the only thing he thought he’d ever do well.

Bob C operated TV cameras for the CBS affiliate in Des Moines. He’d been a professional photographer for years, dressed in khakis and tweed, and smoked a pipe.

My friend’s divorced mother, Willie S, fixed up well into middle age; you’d hope to find her clean bra in her laundry room when you visited your friend.

Willie’d landed some small modeling jobs in Des Moines, probably for Younkers; Bob C. had photographed her and become her boyfriend. For Iowa, they made a glamorous pair.

My friend and I were helping Bob as production assistants on a 16mm shoot one day when Bob complained he’d no budget for a dolly. I deflated my Beetle’s tires, removed a front seat, and opened the sunroof so he could shoot out of the car as we slowly pushed it.

Willie S, in a bright sun dress, smelling of Younkers perfume, and perfectly quaffed, steered and braked, and I fell in love with cinema. 


At university, Fiction 101 students submit a story every couple of weeks. They meet at someone’s apartment or at a bar. The teachers are Workshop grad students from exotic lands, Santa Monica and Providence.

And for those still interested after Fiction Writing 101, even those studying film theory and criticism, Jack Leggett, head of the graduate Fiction Workshop, taught the undergraduate workshop.

Leggett had written a masterful dual biography, Ross and Tom: Two American Tragedies, about two of his own contemporaries, their inabilities to handle success, and their suicides.

I’d done well with undergrad writing and so asked Jack for a graduate program recommendation. He thought I might do well at UC Irvine. I’d like the beach, but why wasn’t I applying for Iowa?

As head of the program, he carefully advised his students not so much towards a path in writing – one must find that for oneself – but away from a path he knew didn’t suit them.
Ross and Tom and his own fragilities made him sensitive to young writers who could be blown off track forever by a careless comment or a puff of air.

Students unsure of themselves, do not make memorable workshop writers but with good mentoring do often finish their course having become serious about language and writing.


Values in the late sixties ran to God and country; proud and patriotic children sang along with The Ballad of the Green Beret (put silver wings on my son’s chest.)

But only a few years later, the same kids were fleeing state police hurling tear gas towards their anti-war demonstrations. University studies and academia’s shelter eventually ended for that generation though.

By then, some of us had broken up with girl friends; some of us were desperate to travel, and some who’d protested also suffered some small guilt over their disloyalty. For all of that, some of us felt that the Peace Corps was an answer. With an MFA, you could teach in Rwanda or Mali

I chose Central Africa over the desert. But Rwandans are mountain people and don’t form friendships easily. So in the summer, as the Canadian and European ex pats lit out for vacations and home, the post became lonely.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, as the Brussels bound Sabina flight passed over head, big hot tears welled in my eyes. But the solitude did afford time for reading –  Faulkner and Malcom Lowry, appropriate if not cheery, and writing.

The road home from Africa included bicycling across France and grape picking in the Loire Valley.

Later it put me in touch too with Ireland where dark quiet men, the stock of my Midwestern uncles, and Ross and Tom too, I suppose, smoked and bowed their silent heads into pints of Carlsberg and Guinness.

When the money ran out, I came home to a bland landscape, featureless, where white men speak English exclusively on a wide prairie insipid and void of diversity. Inevitably, and soon, San Francisco called.

Almost as foreign as Rwanda or France, California seduces intent. Self-addressing stamped envelopes, running to Kinkos for copying, and the wait wait wait for rejection takes its toll while a trip to wine country or, a ride up the wild foggy coast entices.

Eventually work, the daily grind, family, and fear of more rejection put writing into a long, long, long hiatus.

But one day, as if delivered by elves in the night, the internet had spawned dozens of web magazines and publishing venues with editors thirsty for content.

And granted, few of the publications paid or counted large circulations, but submission were simple and literary tribes communicating via eMail and social media were forming, supporting one another, and even meeting live from time to time.

Sharing work was more possible than ever. Finding an audience was more possible than ever. Where I’d had no place in the past, I saw the possibility of a place now.

And in the end, I began writing again, struggling with it, because after all, it’s the only thing for which I may have a little talent, the only thing I’ve ever thought I might do well.

Frenchie at the Fair
by Steven Gowin
Frenchie hustled waffle irons.
He also hawked peelers, can openers, and electric turkey carvers out of a cornucopial van of small electric appliances and household gizmos. 
A swarthy fellow with glistening black locks, starched white shirt, and open collar, his daylong pitches sent his voice low and gravelly requiring amplification, and so the mic around his neck.
Parked next to the State Fair Talent Search with host Bill Riley, Frenchie’s performance topped even the winning talent, boy phoenom and accordionist, Dewillio Mordini. 
Sometimes Frenchie had must take a break to light a cig for a few puffs such was the exertion of charity in bringing all those reel to reel tape recorders, shoe polishers, and assorted junk to a grateful Iowa populace. 

You could watch him for hours.

(Published at Fictionaut)


Steven Gowin is a corporate video producer in San Francisco. His fiction has appeared in Insomnia and Obsession, Pure Slush, The Olentangy Review, and others. Gowin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

photo by Jack Leggett

JOURNEY TO PLANET WRITE: When a Question Becomes an Answer

by Meg Tuite

Is writing another form of depression that needs a page instead of an ear to hear it?

How often do you write the same story over and over again? Are you trying to get somewhere? But isn’t it supposed to be about the journey? What do we want to convey? Should it be in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person, or maybe a mix? Past tense, present tense or both? Should it be written with differing voices that aren’t in linear time or should it be written at all? When does it seem like it doesn’t matter? That what is written won’t change anyone, not even the one who writes it? Is it true that anything and everything is interesting in the hands of a skilled writer? And where does the skill come from?

No one can really teach you how to write well. But, isn’t anything done well, reworked over and over again until it moves somewhere. More skill involves more time in front of the page, writing and writing and then there’s the editing part which is more intensive sometimes than the writing itself. So, then would that mean that a person with an eye for that extraneous crap in a story is really the writer?

And is there a way to lead a healthy life as a writer? Do you start off with coffee and hole up for a few hours? Or eat some eggs or oatmeal, take some vitamins, and then hole up again. Or sit in a cafe surrounded by the white noise of stranger’s voices so you don’t have to actually be alone to complete the task?

And what about exercise? Do you become a head with a body slugging behind it? How much energy is left over to run or go to a gym? And do you really care to move around after your mind has been on a treadmill trying to circumvent so many questions and possible paths? Or do you just say, fuck it, I’ll do that tomorrow and get some wine, Scotch, beer? Or maybe you’ve already been there, and so you take another Xanax and go to an AA meeting.

Do you have a social life? After spending many hours alone, does your tongue still work and do you have anything to say besides what your story or book is about? Or do you sit back and listen complacently because you have already completed your task in the world and let others tell you why their life is not coming together?

And is it a good thing to be in a healthy relationship? You know, happy and trusting and oh, yes, we both love our solitude and that makes being together all the more peaceful and uncomplicated. Or is best to have a lot of drama, so you can rage on the page and throw lamps and knick-knacks, end up sleeping with the neighbor’s cousin or stealing lawn ornaments or street signs to keep life interesting?

Do you work all day in an office, while you keep a notebook of thoughts for your manuscript

awaiting you at home? Do you turn the key in your lock and strip off your uniform and get your holey pajamas with that t-shirt you got from making the 50k words in a month NANO one year, grab some more coffee and sit at your desk?

Is there a better stream that flows at night when you hear traffic and sirens, music somewhere out there, but you just keep plugging those veins with caffeine as you remember that one time in high school, or that guy who always started his stories with ‘I got to tell you,’ or walk that fine line between waking and dreaming and let the free-float of words pressure themselves into some kind of formula that makes sense when you’re stoned or is so close to not making sense that you are sure it’s multi-layered and is one of those abstract pieces that can be interpreted so many different ways depending on the reader?

Do you surround yourself with books and a thesaurus? Do you keep checking for that one word that will absolutely blow minds with its inimitable impact? How about a word count? Do you shoot for 1500 words a day? 2500?  Or are you set up in a stark room, maybe the basement with the shades down and no books, no view, no sound but the cracking of joints when you stretch?   

And how do you know your work is authentic? Do you get out your copy of Poets and Writers and look for a summer workshop? Or maybe make certain that everyone knows you are serious about your vocation and get into an MFA program? Those are places where they attempt to guide you in a distinct direction. You are surrounded by classes full of writers just as confused as you are or maybe they aren’t? They are always tapping away on their keyboards whenever you see them on campus. Maybe that’s their voice and not your voice? Maybe they are misguiding you, and you become more and more certifiably lost as you sit with a group of other writers who continue to give you advice, though each one likes or dislikes or is confused by a different part of your story.

Or you decide to go to AWP. Yes, you are going to go to the largest writers conference for five days. You go to a panel on how to publish a book without an agent. You go to a panel on how to speak your truth, how to write a blog, what genre is best for you. In between panels you get a map of the book fair with millions of books for sale, walk aisle after aisle, booth after booth of small-press publishers, large-press publishers, literary magazine editors, MFA programs, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenplays, graphic novels, playwriting, agents, and in-house readings with a floor plan that makes any museum look like a bathroom stall. You stagger off after drinking your way through a pariah of off-site parties and readings each night with a bag full of books, brochures, pamphlets, buttons, stickers and business cards and rush to make your flight back home.

Do you remember whom you met? You look on your phone and see tons of photos of you with other writers or publishers or were they editors? Do any of the notes you made make sense? Why do you feel so depressed? Did you lie in bed for a week after it was over wondering why you have no energy to even open your computer? You might remember snippets of introductions of authors who have bios that go on like breakdowns. You remember staring out over a balcony at what looked to be enough people to fill a city and think that every one of them has written at least one book, if not more, trying not to calculate. Your back aches and your credit card is maxed out.

And while you’re lying in that bed, do you remember that first desk you sat beneath? Not the one at school, but the one your mom bought you for five bucks at the school rummage sale that waited for you every day against a corner of your room. And do you remember that you wanted to be dead when you were three? And when you got that writing desk with paper and sat at it when you were eight, it was the first time that you found a way to disappear and appear without anyone seeing at the same time.

You sit in a therapist’s office with headphones on and a beep that goes back and forth. “What do you see,” asks the therapist? Your eyes are closed. Aren’t those images of snapshots you saw when you were a kid? Yeah, you see your Dad. And yeah, you are shaking. “No,” you hear yourself think. “Nothing is clear,” you say. “It’s a blur of images.”  You can’t be sure of any of them, even if you spend an entire lifetime trying to hide the tremors that unhinge you.

You do know one thing, for sure. Writing is the only reason you’re still alive, whether anyone reads it or not.

by Meg Tuite
The girl didn’t want all the necklaces from the store rack that she slipped into her coat pocket the size of a rural mailbox opening, but did want friends to notice that she wasn’t as afraid as the tremors that spread across her face like the make-up and lipstick she just palmed in her hand that would only make her imperfections brighter, more shrill when one of her friends got too close to her and whispered  secrets about other girls that could have been her pimples, flat chest, crazy thoughts, secrets that her mom told her would save her from the captivity of convention, anchor her within her own breed of otherness, keep her from walking within the lines as her mother slipped a pen and notebook into the girl’s pocket and went back to confiscating the wail of wind in stranger’s depressed faces, demolished buildings, the bruised colors of the girl’s interior with a paintbrush, humming a soft, velvet tune that the girl wanted to crawl inside larger than her bulging pocket filled with sparkly trinkets she would hand out to friends at school the next day.  

(Published in MadHatter’s Review)


Meg Tuite is author of two short story collections, Bound By Blue(Sententia Books, 2013) and Domestic Apparition () San Francisco Bay Press, 2011), and four chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from Artistically Declined Press for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging (2014) written with Heather Fowler and Michelle Reale. She teaches at Santa Fe Community College, and is a columnist at Connotation Press and JMWW. Her blog:
Hollow Gestures” nominated for Best of the Web at Blue Lyra Review
Fingerprints,” ekphrastic flash w/ art, music on video published by Michael Cooper, Orange Monkey Publishing.
“Worn-Out Fabric” published in People Holding
Video book trailer for “Grace Notes” with David Tomaloff and me; video by Marc Neys
Root People” published in Nervous Breakdown


by Jen Knox

Angst. A hard-hitting, Midwestern mixture of anxiety and unfocused resentment kicked off my journey toward Planet Write. I was a high school dropout with unrealistic ideas about what the world owed me. I’d had a hardscrabble journey to adulthood, and a lot to say about it, but I had yet to make my way to a writing life.  
Angst propelled me. I knew things needed to change, but the future was blurry. After getting my GED, to help with job prospects, I applied for financial aid and enrolled at Columbus State Community College. Next thing I knew, I was back in classes, self-conscious about being a few years older than most of my contemporaries. The high school I had spent many days avoiding was known for teaching survival skills, not sentence structure, so I began in remedial English.   
Somewhere along the line, college began to click for me. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed writing narrative essays, especially for classes that weren’t English. I loved the credibility of being a writer who knew a lot about subject X or Y. I spent hours writing entire essays that weren’t on the syllabus. Taking every sociology and psychology class I could, I began writing fictional case studies – getting into the minds of those I wanted to understand. I really kicked off my writing life in those psychology classes, exploring the research and theories of Erikson, Freud (Anna and Sigmund), Jung, Maslow, and Pavlov. Mental illness became the mainstay of my creative writing for many years after.  
Those first few years of college were long. I worked full-time in factories, clubs, restaurants, and gas stations. I took classes as I was able to pay for books, general fees, and transportation. I had to time things with the bus line for a few years, which wasn’t ideal, but I got through, and I wrote most of my essays on the bus or during breaks at work.  
When I was accepted into Otterbein University, I began to take writing seriously. I met a few instructors who opened new worlds for me. Dr. Shannon Lakanen urged me to explore my personal experiences in creative nonfiction, and, before I knew it, I couldn’t shut up about myself. I studied Joan Didion, Michel de Montaigne, William Hazlitt, and Phillip Lopate. I learned that when I wrote true stories, even traumatic stories, they lost their emotional grip on me. Writing allowed me to reframe reality.
I was lucky enough to study with Phillip Lopate personally after Otterbein because, at the urging of a few professors, I applied to a single grad school and, go figure, got in. I remember getting the acceptance letter and thinking, Shit! I can’t really do this.
Bennington was tough for me, but I was so grateful to be there that I absorbed everything it had to offer. I didn’t take a single breath in Vermont for granted. Although I continued to study creative nonfiction, I realized that the fundamental benefit of writing transcends genre and form.     
Once a graduate left to find sustainable work (after years of working and school, working alone feels rather strange), I found time to write but no structure and no audience, so I wrote what I wanted when I could, and I continued to read everything I could get ahold of. I also began to share work, mostly in online journals and small press publications. I had a voice.
I currently direct a program that connects writers to community settings around San Antonio. The writers, who are published and stellar instructors, bring their passion and expertise to young people, adults, the elderly, the incarcerated, and the homeless in order to show them that their voices matter. So many people do not understand how valuable their stories are.
I remember my angst vividly. It was my companion. I had been through quite a bit in my formative years that made me fear the world; and fear is a place from which we either make bad decisions loudly or hole up and hide. I hid.
It was writing, in all its “otherworldliness,” that freed me. I attempt to pay this forward with my work, both as an educator and a person who connects those who know the value of writing with those who are yet to discover the power of words. It is my belief that Planet Write should be about inclusion, and that it will only be made stronger with the addition of voices that have been silenced due to lack of access or time. So many people live every day just trying to get by.    
Writing, for me, is necessary, urgent, and sometimes it feels more real than reality itself. I recently published a book with Rain Mountain Press, After the Gazebo, and I am beginning to shop a new collection of eco-centered fiction. I am also finishing a very strange novella, To Shake His Hand.
My journey as a writer has just begun. It is only within the last few years that I’ve truly tapped into the authentic, creative voice. Writing equips me to deal with the messy stuff of life, and it has become a bridge to opportunities I could have never imagined existed. I suppose if I were to summarize what drives my writing life today in a word, it’d be gratitude. 
Lottery Days
by Jen Knox
You told me not to play with matches that summer, so I palmed a corner-store lighter. The serrated metal tickled and warmed as it rolled against my thumb. The flame reached for the tip of your blue Crayon, and globs of wax fell on my thigh. I pressed the warmth, eager to melt the whole thing, but you knocked the lighter from my hands. You wanted to color the sky, you said, and I wouldn’t ruin your chance.

(Excerpt from “Lottery Days,” which appears in Literary Orphans)


Jen Knox directs Gemini Ink’s Writers-in-Communities Program in San Antonio. She is the author of After the Gazebo (Rain Mountain Press, 2015), and her short work can be found in The Adirondack Review, Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row, Chicago Quarterly Review, Istanbul Review, Literary Orphans, Room Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. Find Jen here:


Journey to Planet Write: The Dartboard > Vox > A Chance Encounter

by Jonathan Cardew

The Dartboard 

In the middle of the dartboard was a villain. Ninja Features. That was actually the name I had given him. He was pinned up on the board and taking his comeuppance, via darts. Throwing the darts were the good guys, of course. One was called Mummyface. Mummyface was a kind of squashed dartboard shape himself, with legs coming out of his head and a big-toothed grin and spaced-out eyes. I can visualize these images today, even though the comic book I wrote at nine is long gone. I can visualize Mr. Taylor, my English teacher, with his short-cropped beard and long legs, and I can still feel his enthusiasm for the work I’d done three decades later. 


I was enthralled, but mostly I was stoned, during Contemporary Fiction and the Self-Conscious Novel (I was also very self-conscious during the Self-Conscious Novel). Dr. Vic Sage mumbled. He ruminated. He had a beard. Sometimes, he just stared at us in our seminar room, modeled after a Swedish prison. He recommended I do a creative dissertation. We’d read Gulliver’s Travels, Cervantes, AL Kennedy, Arabian Nights. This was the late 90s in Norwich. I was raving a lot. I had my head in music. I put pen to paper badly. I licked Rizla and made spliffs, and wrote even worse. The Sage recommended Vox, a novel in dialogue. It was an erotic telephone conversation, which I devoured in one sitting. Then I wrote the best story I’d ever written. I kept on smoking for years.    

A Chance Encounter

I was about to have a baby. Not personally—via my wife. So I jumped head first into an MA at Sheffield Hallam University, as you do. Professor E.A. “Archie” Markham was from Montserrat, a small volcanic island in the Caribbean. He was back from Paris, in emeritus, teaching the short story unit. The English Department was in desperate need of a short story writer. I think they missed me, he said. He was the funniest person I know. And always late. And always equipped with a joke in observation form. One of our readings was ‘Chance Traveller’ by Haruki Murakami, a story about chance encounters* and coincidences. I read and re-read it. I wrote more bad stories. I cradled a baby. I worked a demoralizing job. I followed every word he said in our seminars. I followed every joke to the punch line. He suggested that we write a story about a year when spring didn’t happen, when the flowers didn’t sprout up out of the ground and the leaves didn’t return to the trees. I haven’t written that story yet. He passed away suddenly on his stairwell in Paris in 2008.

*I don’t believe in chance encounters. I would like to thank every teacher for teaching me.


by Jonathan Cardew

Photo by Matt Richie
We fingered anemones and flicked crabs that summer while our parents screamed and threw things. I was the older, I was in charge, but the rock pools were all different shapes and sizes. Foothold was complicated. My sister bled.

When my mother shushed her, I could feel the scorn. She was blonde; I was brunette. She was outspoken; I was quiet. The ocean sprayed salt against the hulls of boats in the harbour. Jellyfish washed up and died, flecked in sand and seaweed. A storm passed through, snapping masts like toothpicks. I dreamt of a city far from water.

(Originally published in KYSO Flash Issue 5)


Jonathan Cardew’s stories, interviews, and articles appear or are forthcoming in Atticus ReviewFlash: The International Short-Short Story MagazineThe ForgeJMWW, Smokelong Quarterly, and Segue, among others. He holds an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, and he teaches English at Milwaukee Area Technical College, where he co-edits The Phoenix Literary and Arts Magazine. He was a finalist in this year’s Best Small Fictions


“A History Without Suffering” by E.A. Markham

Dr. Victor Sage

An Interview with Jonathan Cardew:

Jonathan Cardew’s Website:

Journey to Planet Write: Lost and Found

by Lynn Mundell

Bed Is for Reading

Squashed between warm bodies, I listened to my parents read to me in their bed. Soon, I read to myself. In public school, we all pored over the Scholastic Book catalogs and filled in order forms. I would order 10, 20 books. School was very dull. Then the delivery came, and a high stack of books bound together with a jumbo rubber band landed on my desk, and I was saved by Amelia Bedelia, that fantastic blockhead.

When I was 9 my teacher announced a writing contest sponsored by the American Legion. We all wrote about what it meant to be an American. I was a so-so American, so got third prize, a small bronze medal hanging from a heavy red, white, and blue ribbon. I wore it constantly until my older sister asked me to please stop.  If you were a writer, you were pretty much a dignitary. Practically royalty. Who wouldn’t want to be a writer?

Youth Was for Writing

I wrote poetry and newspaper stories in high school and college, while working a series of weirdo jobs — toy store clerk, men’s clothing saleswoman, failed florist (I was fired after sending the funeral arrangement to the baby shower, and vice versa), trailer cleaner, preschool flunky. A boyfriend asked me what I planned to write about. I told him I wasn’t sure, and he scoffed, fueling my doubt.

Chico Senior High newspaper staff. 
Lynn is second from the left, seated.

In the midst of being in big trouble at my newspaper internship for accidentally deleting the entire issue of the weekly during production, I was accepted to graduate school. At 20, I moved East to earn my MFA. More jobs. Hat shop worker. Postcard saleslady. Frank Conroy shredded my prose, then once gave me a friendly ride to class in his old station wagon. I wrote at odd hours and went alone into dark places in my head and wandered out again a little bit stranger and worse for wear each time. I worked at papers, and one sent me to St. Louis to interview U.S. Poet Laureate Howard Nemerov, simply because I was the closest thing to a poetry editor they had. I won a prize at the university. It felt almost as good as the one from fifth grade.

Throwing in the Towel

In my 20s I tried valiantly to be what I thought constituted a writer. I taught at a college, and whether due to circumstances (grammar night class) or myself (uncertain), it wasn’t for me. I chased literary magazines. The fat, healthy envelope would go off in the mail with a poem and an SASE, and a thin, pale one would return, sometimes months later. I stopped writing creatively. I thought my professors’ belief in me must have been misplaced. I threw myself into work life, married, moved home to California. On a whim, I took a creative non-fiction class from columnist Adair Lara, a wonderful teacher. An essay was published in The Sun, then another in The San Jose Mercury News.  The morning I went to a Merc box on Market Street and bought 10 copies of the issue with my essay, I broke down and cried. Somewhere in my now 32-year-old body, the writer lived.


Also growing in that body was a baby. Then another. Nothing had prepared me for just how hard it is to be a working mother. Years passed in a blur of commuter trains and playgrounds. I read aloud to my sons in bed. I volunteered at the schools. (My favorite gig was  … the Scholastic Book Fair!) While I wrote for a lot of people and places, I never wrote for myself. I had given up.

One day my old friend Grant Faulkner invited me for a drink and asked if I would like to start an online literary journal with him. I didn’t understand the term “flash fiction” that he kept using, but I said yes. If I wasn’t a writer anymore, I could be a publisher. That invitation to start 100 Word Story five years ago was pivotal. Early on, we didn’t have enough stories for an issue. I sat down, wrote a trio of Halloween-themed “scairytales” in the proverbial flash, and was hooked. I interviewed masters of flash, who sometimes became treasured friends and teachers, and read thousands of story submissions over the years — seeing what worked and didn’t. Eclectica accepted a largely autobiographical story. Then Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine took another. I got word over my iPhone en route to a family vacation. Instead of tears this time, I gave a whoop of joy.

Stay with the Page

With time, I developed an actual writing life. Before going to sleep or when I awake, I write longhand in journals. (Bed. Again.) Stories are anywhere from 50 to 1,000 words and may take up to 30 drafts. After one is about 95 percent done, I type it up and keep it in my purse or pocket for a while, pulling it out at odd times to reread it and change it until I feel it is finished. I keep a long list of journals, alphabetized from A (The Adroit Journal) to Z (Zyzzyva) and spend a lot of time trying to find the right place for each piece. (I much prefer the age of online submissions, although I recently mailed a story in an old school envelope. Still waiting…) I’m grateful for every publication, heartened by the dedicated, generous writers, editors, and publishers in today’s literary community. I still have so much to learn, but I’m not giving up. At 51, I have a lot to say, fewer years now to say it, and I know what a very long time it can take to awaken the writer sleeping within.


Lynn Mundell’s flash fiction has appeared in Tin House “Flash Fidelity,” Superstition ReviewLiterary OrphansJellyfish ReviewThrice Fictionand elsewhere, with more forthcoming this year in Mulberry Fork Review, A3 Review, and Five Points. Lynn is co-founder and co-editor of 100 Word Story.


by Michael Gillan Maxwell

My journey to Planet Write started in a most inauspicious manner. When my first grade teacher told us to turn in our writing workbooks, I panicked, grabbed another kid’s workbook, and turned hers in as my own. My plagiarism was discovered, and I was shamed in front of the class.

It was an important moment of awakening and personal growth. At the age of nine, I wrote my first and only novel: a work of fiction about the Korean War. My research consisted of watching Pork Chop Hill, starring Gregory peck. Handwritten in pencil, the novel filled a composition book. My mother was my only reader. That was the first baby step on my journey to Planet Write.

Flash forward to high school. My favorite courses were English Composition, Drama, and Speech where we created short stories recited to the class without the aid of written notes. It was challenging and scary, but also a rush. I landed a couple of poems in the high school literary magazine. They were laden with the usual teenage angst and apocalyptic existential dread, but they weren’t all that bad. My football teammates teased me mercilessly, thinking the only reason I wrote poetry was to suck up to our young, super hot teacher. It was one reason. Not the only reason.

I learned something about the relationship between writing and rebellion after discovering books by Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, and Ayn Rand squirrelled away in boxes in the basement. Their writing bristled with subversive energy and danger, and carried the whiff of forbidden fruit. Around that time, I got my first guitar, a $25 Harmony with a sunburst finish. It was heavier than a box of rocks and a real knuckle buster, but I managed to hang with it long enough to learn some basic chords and a few folk songs. It was also a great way to impress girls. I saved money and bought a better guitar, and even though I didn’t have the life experience to really sing the blues, I started writing my own original story songs.

Onto the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It was an exciting and turbulent time for soul searching, ecstatic exploration, and pushing back against the status quo. As a student, I was a train wreck; undisciplined and distracted by social upheaval and a heady concoction of sex, drugs, rock & roll, the anti-war movement and the birth of the counter culture. 

My real education happened outside the classroom. There was a rich and vibrant indie literary and art movement, with underground newspapers, street artists, musicians, and guerilla theater performance artists. Poets handed out mimeographed, self-published broadsides. There were great bands, happenings and regular visits by political poets like Allen Ginsberg. I soaked it all up. During this idyllic time, I backpacked around Europe and lived in Germany, fell hopelessly in love, wrote some pretty awful poetry and some pretty decent songs, and discovered Leonard Cohen and Herman Hesse.

After Madison, I landed in Colorado, working construction before entering the University of Colorado to study Fine Art. The Boulder writing scene exploded as the Naropa Institute was getting off the ground. There were readings, poetry workshops, and opportunities to meet writers who came to town to get the whole thing started. Hunter S. Thompson, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, Michael Burroughs, and Anais Nin were some of the writers who came and went. It all made an indelible impression on me, even as I was heading off in another direction.

From that point on, I focused on visual art and education.

I moved to New York state where I established Old Mill Pottery and eventually became a teacher of Visual Art in public schools, community art centers, and at the college level. I went to Japan on a Fulbright and produced an artist’s book, 17 Syllables: Haiku and Images. I also played in rock bands throughout those years, writing songs and coming to realize that my heart truly resides in the 4-minute story song, a novel in three verses and a chorus.

I went on to work as a school principal, program coordinator, educational leader, and consultant. Through it all, I wrote constantly, but it was an entirely different type of writing. It was a world of academic papers, Masters theses, student and faculty evaluations, and professional reports. Though the writing was often dry, boring, and tedious, that time was a critical stage of the journey. While not “creative writing” per se, it trained me to work to a deadline, organize my thoughts, and concisely articulate them. That kind of writing has its own strict rules and constraints, but it taught me discipline. The real trick was shaking off those shackles when I came out the other side so I could make my way back to Planet Write.

As my education career wound down, I started blogging and wrote prose poetry, flash fiction, and memoir. I found my tribe on the internet, workshopped in writing circles and attended writing conferences. In 2015, The Part Time Shaman Handbook: An Introduction For Beginners was published by Bud Smith’s Unknown Press. A hybrid mix of prose poetry and images, it feels like my true path and my own authentic voice. 

I’d love to take this opportunity to close with a shout out to my colleagues in the writing community and to the editors who have published my work, but especially to fellow writers and friends Robert Vaughan, Meg Tuite, Bud Smith, Kathy Fish, and Lawrence Kessenich. You all helped me find my voice and showed me ways to make my writing my own. Your patience, professional insight, collegial support, and friendship have helped me find my way back to Planet Write. For that I will remain eternally grateful.

Good Help Is Hard To Find

Some of them are notorious tweakers. Nobody epitomizes the cowboy-outlaw biker more than the ironworkers, who are wired on Black Beauties they sell on breaks. 

Bulldozers rumble over loose red soil, kicking up dust and spewing acrid exhaust. Machinery clamors and clanks in pandemonium. Heavy metal blasts from a boom box with such fury that it overpowers the machine gun roar of jackhammers.

The ironworkers sing along at the top of their lungs as they climb the latticework, and Dave leans on his shovel, staring in disbelief at the pink slip in his hand.

(Published in the Santa Fe Literary Review 2013. Meg Tuite, Editor)


Michael Gillan Maxwell is a writer and visual artist in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. Maxwell writes short fiction, poetry, songs, essays, lists, recipes and irate letters to his legislators. A teller of tales, and singer of songs, he’s prone to random outbursts, he may spontaneously combust or break into song at any moment.

The Part Time Shaman Handbook: An Introduction For Beginners was published by Unknown Press in 2015. Maxwell can be found ranting and raving on his website:

JOURNEY TO PLANET WRITE: Nipples and Cocaine

by Catfish McDaris

The writing bug bit me while I was in the army in Germany. I’d write family and friends about all my experiences: castles with paintings where the eyes seemed to follow you around the room, shooting cannons, the pretty frauleins, and rough toilet paper on the trains. Everyone looked forward to my letters.

I’d been reading westerns and war books because they fit in my pocket. I learned about the classics from different authors of all nationalities. I decided I could write, so my first attempt was a western set in my home state of New Mexico. It never got published. I finished my three-year hitch, then headed “back to the world.” I explored Mexico where I fished for sharks, lived in a car through a winter in Denver, built adobe buildings, worked in a zinc smelter. I kept a few notebooks from then, but never sent anything out. Later I moved to Milwaukee, got a job in the Post Office, and married a beautiful Mexican lady.
I discovered small presses and Bukowski. I started sending poems (which to me were always stories) and short fiction to magazines in 1992. After lots of rejects, I began to get published. I was able to write at work in small notebooks or on scraps of paper, then rewrite on my typewriter. I figured Buk did it this way. In 1994 I went to De Paul University to read at the First Underground Press Conference and met many publishers and writers. I organized several charity music and poetry events in Milwaukee called Wordstock. In 1997 I was published in a three-way chapbook called Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. By then I’d done five or six solo chapbooks. In 1998 I went to Cherry Valley, NY to Ginsberg’s farm and read with all the Beatniks left alive. (Burroughs and Ginsberg were dead) This was a three-day event that got real wild.
In 2007 I took my wife, Aida to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary. I read at Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore. I also read on 42nd in NYC with a Jimi Hendrix impersonator. All of my readings were practiced and rehearsed in Milwaukee at various venues.
I was leery of the small press on the web. I was so used to the envelope, snail mail, SASE method. I didn’t trust or like computers. I had what I called my Hammer. It was a Smith Corona word processing typewriter. It held ten pages of memory, then you had to erase it. I’d written 20 chapbooks on it. Finally my wife gave me a computer and a few lessons. I was amazed at the ease.
I’ve met people from all over the world because of the web. I’ve been translated into many different languages. I quit counting Pushcart nominations after 15 and Best of Net. I’ve won a few things over the last 25 years. I was a contributing editor to Latino Stuff Review for over ten years and Shrimp over five years. I earned lots of money for Hope House here in Milwaukee for abused women and children. The sheer joy of writing has opened my eyes and heart to many things.
A few years ago Marquette University Special Archives bought my collection of books, magazines, and broadsides. They also collect anything electronic about me or from me in their archives. Now I can read over the phone on radio shows. Technology is amazing. I hope writing is never replaced by computers. Now I’m going to take a walk down to Lake Michigan, good day.

The Mirage

Spaniard screamed in the rain and drank from the sky trying to figure where he went wrong and lost his way. He met a beautiful maiden, they ate rabbit and quail and soon she led him up a steep trail.


Catfish McDaris has been active in the small press world for 25 years. He shot howitzers three years in the army and used to fish and hunt as a boy in New Mexico. Sometimes he goes down to Lake Michigan and feeds seagulls and dreams of mountain horses. He’s working in a wig shop in a high crime area of Milwaukee. He’s been translated into Spanish, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog, and Esperanto.
His book, Sleeping With the Fish, contains poetry and prose and is 265 pages for under $10 from Pski’s Porch


Available at Amazon

by Len Kuntz

When I was a boy, there was always a lot of turmoil in our house, things I didn’t understand. I was painfully shy and had no friends, so I didn’t know how normal families lived, yet I knew ours was different.

The only place I felt safe was the basement bathroom where no one ever went. Sometimes late in the evening I would wedge myself between the sink and toilet, sitting over the heat vent because warmth, too, signified a kind of safety, as our house was always quite cold, because heat cost money and that was another thing we lacked.

I was around nine when this habit started. I’d stay up for hours, holed away in the bathroom, reading Gulliver’s Travelsor any other book I’d gotten from the library. Reading was escapism, something that felt like wonder, something I desperately needed.

School was another safe place and one semester in fourth grade, we focused on creative writing. The teacher assigned us four different writing prompts each day and we were to pick one to write about. I’d always choose all four because it seemed a shame to waste a good story idea, even if it wasn’t mine.

At the end of the year, my teacher pulled me aside and said, “You should think about being a writer when you grow up.” I thought she was joking at first, but the more I thought about it, the more the idea became a kind of dream that I carried around with me, tucked away safely in my shirt pocket, right beside my heart.

That summer our garage burned down and we were laying the foundation for a new one. All of us boys were helping out. (Len is on the far right at the end of the wagon) My brothers were very good with their hands, as well as my father, who was a mechanic. Me, I wore puka shells, had long, David Cassidy hair, and read poetry. My assisting simply meant handing over tools.

At one point we broke for lunch and as my brothers left, I was alone with my Dad, something kind of rare, but for whatever reason I felt brave enough to say, “Hey, Dad, I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.” To wit, he asked, “Yeah, what’s that?” He was staring at me then, but I still told him, “I want to be a writer.” Without hesitating, as if he knew what I was going to say all along, he said, “Quit your fucking dreaming. How’re you going to eat on that?”

Though it was a knife to the heart, I don’t think he meant it that way. We were poor. The way you made a living was with your hands and hard labor. He just couldn’t fathom being able to feed yourself, let alone a family, by writing words.

But what he’d said quashed my dream and so as I got older, I took a more pragmatic path and ended up having a corporate career.

More than thirty years later, I retired early and started writing full-time. This was around 2009. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know there were online journals and had never even heard of the term “Flash Fiction.” But once I discovered them, I became a student.

It was easy to assess who the top writers were at that time, so I picked a handful—Roxane Gay, Kim Chinquee, Kathy Fish, xTx, Meg Pokrass—and I read everything they wrote, read it forward and backward. Then I started submitting to the same places I’d seen them published, not realizing that for a novice like me, some of those places are extremely hard to get into. But that bit of naivety helped as my first few pieces landed in some of the top sites—Juked, Elimae, Storyglossia and others.

Along the way, I kept trying to be a student of the craft.  Additionally, I watched people like Matt Bell, who really worked hard at immersing himself in the writing community, and I tried, in my own way, to emulate what he had accomplished. What I never expected is how easy it would be, how welcoming and supportive other writers are. And it didn’t occur to me until later that, as writers, we’re all boats in the same ocean, just using different oars.

It’s a joy and a gift to be able to create and engage with other writers. It’s like finding your soul mate and realizing how lucky you are, never taking it for granted.

It’s been a long, sometimes crooked, road since I was that nine year old boy, but when I’m reading something that really sings, or when I’m totally engrossed while I’m writing, I think I’m still him. I’m warm and I’m safe. I’m quite happy.

                                                        Beautiful Violence 

Here’s what happens:

She thinks this is forever.  You love her.  You say so regularly.  Most of the time, you’re kind.  Occasionally, you’re a bastard because you have fists and impulses that are difficult to quell.
Still you’re her best thing ever.  She tells you that often, especially during sex–those seldom, soft-churning, almost-like-lovers, sex times.

And so a home movie or two is fine.  She’ll do whatever.  

Really, whatever.   Film all you want.  It’ll be ours to watch alone, titillating. 

Yes, she actually says that.

And then, out of the blue, the impulses and fists become overactive, finding flesh and bone, making hamburger over and over until she finally leaves you.

Stupid Bitch, why’d it take so long? 

But you still have the movie.  It’s just sitting there inside your phone, so you download it to a site where everyone can see what a ruler you are of women, how you dominate them, how they do whatever you command, and the video gets so many hits that you somehow start to make an income from it, plus your face is pixeled out, but not hers, because it’s important for her agony to be choreographed.

History—those tortured, yet intimate moments—is recorded from mere memories.  Easy peasy.  Yay!

And so you strut in front of a mirror naked, fists raised toward the ceiling, noticing how large your gut’s gotten, everything bigger now—ego, bravado—though not your understanding of love, sex, or how violence can possibly be a thing of beauty.


Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’m Not Supposed To Be Here And Neither Are You out now from Unknown Press. You can also find him at


by Christopher Bowen

When I was a small child, I used to create flipbooks with crayons and staples on construction paper late in the evening as my mother slept on a couch behind me after a twelve hour nursing shift. I used my first typewriter at four or five, an electric IBM my librarian grandmother had. I remember it’s low, sleek hum when turned on, the power of pressing those keys.

My story, the one I live, is the most important story I’ll ever create.

In 2008, I founded a small chapbook press called Burning River. We published eight chapbooks over about five years hinging on the credit that “the writing Burning River tends to admire, if not imitate, is human. It is flawed. It is incomplete. And it is seeking understanding into and of other human beings.”

And I used grants from culinary school to fund it. I worked full-time as a hospital cook and lived in a cheap, cash-only apartment in a rundown, small Ohio town that industry forgot.

I’m not going to go into exactly howrough life was then, but the press, my life, was worth the sacrifice. I began booking readings and venues outside of Cleveland for myself and other authors. I began to travel more. Just after the closing of the press, I completed two author tours, one on the East and the other on the West.

What makes this part of my story important isn’t the excitement or discovery, even the confidence of it—the writer residency in Quebec or anything else, but the knowing that you are capable of doing these things. What makes this part of my story important is how I earned the ability to do it, the humility and character of all that time, my life.

There’s a small sidebar of random quotes I’ve collected over the years on the Burning River website, ones that still remain there today, even as I only blog from it.  I found this quote over ten years ago while reading a book called Henry Miller On Writing.

“With the endless burrowing a certitude develops which is greater than faith or belief. I become more and more indifferent to my fate, as writer, and more and more certain of my destiny as man.”

How can human beings improve? How can they shape who they are? Sometimes, it’s just the simple decisions they make in the face of adversity.

I recently published a novella, or chapbook, about adversity. When I ReturnTo You, I Will Be Unfed is about some of the very things I’ve been talking to you about: adversity, life-changing, character. I will always be the very most important character I develop. I work now as a travelling, managing chef. I write when I can and appreciate being a part of both the literary world and, at times, the culinary. When I wake up tomorrow, two weeks, three months, one year down the road, what is my destiny as a man?

A lot of people measure successes with a yardstick, a map and a compass. Sometimes, it’s simply the situation you never chose. The main character of my novella doesn’t choose mental illness and it’s something that surely defines him, then and later in life. I have been blessed to have a very full life even at my very young age of thirty-six. I have been blessed with so much character: from hopping into a semi-truck as a kid with my father and sister after breaking down on the Ohio interstate to understanding the natural world: camping, a hike, weathering a storm. Life is a storm and storms haunt me. It’s my ability to look back at them that makes life so much more worth it, that makes me so much more grateful for them, for my life, my human being.


The Farmers of Shangri-La

We are farmers. We are grown from a blackest dirt to be found above the clay table that’s there below the ground in Ohio. Black means rich, black means vitality to us because we are farmers. We plant trees, we grow them.

When years pass us by, by the old oak tree and the swing from its limb we used to climb, it will still be here to whisper secrets only children know and our hollow ghosts.

Summer passes us: the ball game, a worn leather mitt, the county fair and the dusk a part of the wind. Like the way it feels to skinny dip at night when everyone’s parents are asleep and though we are adults ourselves. The owl keeping one eye open and watching the summer pass us farmers and every creeping, crawling thing the night over knows it, knowing nakedness.

We’ve a barn to prove our stores, our progress and toil. We’ve a place behind it to smoke cigarettes or cigars or pipes after the family dinner. We’ve gravel driveways and blueberry homegrown stout or wine and rhubarb pie to eat while joking about the billy goat or how the dogs in the yard are just so stupid, just so dumb.

“What happened?”

“We were out by the dock out on the boat and it tipped, is all. That’s why I’m so wet,’ said as one enters the house, too late to notice the sun setting behind dripping ears. And the person in the living room or dining room nods in approval, knowing the question need not be answered and that it was only half asked to begin with, and offering the last slice of pie.

“What happened to the rest of the world?”

They are failing at something and running from us. It is well affixed in them to repeatedly escape this way, to take the fastest car, the fastest plane to do this, never to be seen the same way again and always lost in one or two or more ways. They leave behind the black, vital dirt of here and Shangri-La behind shaking heads, not shaking water, but disbelief at what is left behind in the past in the country in Ohio. They are on toward the city and clean futures like good barbershop haircuts to return the day like to some lagoon where a father or uncle or grandfather spits into the wind at mosquitoes and mumbles at the lack of predators in the area, natural predators to hunt and kill. This is God’s country.

There is incoming wind to an open window of a pickup truck, the bed filled with wood to last the winter. Bugs scramble at the weight of the statement. But no one hears this: not the bugs, not above the crack and shoot of gravel beneath rugged tires, not below the whistle of wind shaped for the ear and aimed from across a field of corn or alfalfa. Not God hears this, let alone the passenger.

Jackson Browne plays on the stereo, Running On Empty,and the car is in gear. And we will wait for you here, we will wait many years.

This flash fiction piece was first published by Stirring: A Literary Collection published at Sundress Publications.  Here is the original link to “The Farmers of Shangri-La.”


Christopher Bowen is a Midwestern chef. Author of the books We Were Giants (sunnyoutside) and When I Return To You, I Will Be Unfed, he blogs from Burning River.

JOURNEY TO PLANET WRITE: Three Decades, a Burnout, and an Island

by Guilie Castillo-Oriard
In2011 I quit my job in the financial industry to “be a writer,” and everyone thought I’d gone mad. “Burnout,” they whispered.
In all honesty, they weren’t that far off; six years of twelve-hour days does take a toll. But, appearances notwithstanding, this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing. None of my colleagues—no one here in Curaçao, only a scant few in Mexico—had any way of knowing that my journey into writing had begun three decades earlier (and would, in fact, involve actual travel).
The very first thing I wrote was a Christmas story. I was eight. It was a school competition of some sort. I can’t remember the plot (and I admit to a certain amount of relief there are no surviving copies), but it involved a family of swallows (and, probably, much gratuitous heart-string pulling). No one was more surprised than me when I received the first prize; I remember feeling an embarrassed sort of exhilaration as I stepped up to the podium to accept—what was it? a certificate, a piece of paper long lost and forgotten, never framed or showcased in any way. No need; the moment had been enough. At the tender age of eight I had been marked, taken in ownership by the white-hot branding iron of storytelling success, and there was no turning back.
They liked what I wrote.
Storytelling was my gateway. For a very long time, writing, for me, would be about telling a story. It would take me years to discover language—the power of putting words together just so, so that, all of a sudden and (best of all) without warning, the alchemy of meaning sparks into life. But back then it was the sorcery of disappearing into make-believe that hooked me.
I ransacked my father’s extensive library; I read everything, books as diametrically varied as Don Quixoteand Emmanuelle II. I read history and fantasy and cheap novels and Hemingway and Sartre. I stayed up late with a flashlight under the covers. Teachers confiscated the books I hid between lap and desk.
And I wrote and wrote: diaries, journals, endless ‘novels’ that never made it past Chapter 3. I wanted to tell stories, stories like the ones I was reading, stories that would make people laugh and cry and feel… but I had no one around to tell me the magic wasn’t in the telling but in the constructing. No one, except the books themselves. And I fell so deeply into the thrall of the stories that I forgot to—didn’t even thinkto—analyze structure, arcs, character development, management of backstory, nuances of plot; the stories I read worked (mostly), the ones I wrote didn’t (mostly), and I knew it. I just didn’t know enough to see why.
And then…
Do you remember that time, long, long ago, when phone lines could ‘cross’ and you’d find yourself listening to someone else’s conversation? One day, when I was maybe eighteen, I was talking to someone and suddenly I was talking to someone else. My call had dropped, this guy’s call had dropped, and—because life works in mysterious ways—we struck up a conversation. When I had to go, Ernesto—that was his name—asked if he could call me again. Why not, I said. I’ll need your number, though, he said.

He called every few days, and we talked—and talked, and talked. My writing must have come up at some point, though I have no memory of what I said or what he asked, because about a year later—we still hadn’t met, although we lived in the same city—he called with a mission. “A friend of mine is starting a writers’ group,” he said. “I told him about you, and he’d really like to meet you.”
Yes, of course I went—got to meet Ernesto, too—and landed smack in the center of a budding writer’s dream: I found myself a member of a group of young adults (‘teenagers’ sounds so amateurish) who started the city’s first literary magazine. It was called Tinta Seca(‘Dry Ink’ in Spanish), and it put out its last issue in February 2015.
I was only part of it for maybe three years—but they were glorious years. I was in print! I sat at the big-people table the day the magazine was launched. I got to read one of my poems (at a microphone!) to an audience of literati and press with clicking cameras. I was consulted for content and layout issues. I met artists I’d only seen in museums, authors I’d only seen in print. And, less ego-stroking but more edifying, I had an assembly of like-minded individuals (read geeks) to provide example and stimulation. I began straying from the ‘mainstream’ into the uncharted realm of possibility. None of my experiments earned recognition (nor did they deserve to)—but who cared? I had discovered the craft.
It wasn’t meant to be, though. Not then. Not yet. My father died, and with him the bubble of financial security I’d lived in until then. College was out of the question; I had to earn a living, I had to do it now, and I couldn’t do it via writing. And so began the two fallow decades of write-less existence. I didn’t abandon the dream, I just postponed it: one day, when I retired, I would write.
And then…
Travel. And with travel came the stories—and the urge, again, to tell them. Yes, I do hold Curaçao responsible for my return to writing. I came to the island originally for six months; that was thirteen years ago. Why did I stay? Because something here—the diversity? the contrasts? burnout?—provoked in me not just a rekindling of the storytelling monkey but the carpe diemunderstanding that stories, like dreams, wait for no one.


Guilie Castillo-Oriard is a Mexican writer and dog rescuer living in Curaçao. She misses Mexican food and Mexican amabilidad, but the island’s diversity and the laissez-faire attitude (and the beaches) are fair exchange. Her work has appeared online and in print. Her first book, The Miracle of Small Things, was published in August 2015 by Truth Serum Press. She blogs about life and writing at Quiet Laughter and about life and dogs at Life In Dogs.