We've all heard them: Show don't tell; Kill your darlings; Use significant detail. In this clever, quick-moving account of a love affair gone wrong, writing rules frame a deeper truth of the fictions we tell ourselves when we fall in and out of love.
"A Great Story-A Writer's Story"
When her alcoholic father leaves home abruptly, Jamie, a fourth-grade spelling whiz, blames her mother. By channeling her confusion and sorrow into a fixation with spelling and with a visit to a nearby marine park, she cannot see either parent fully. After a trip to Marine World and an unexpected visit from the father, she realizes that nothing about her life now is or will be simple.
A girl betrays a longtime friend for a chance at popularity and finds she has cut off her connection to childhood forever. Set in the fog-shrouded artichoke fields of coastal California, this story won second place in the River City Writing Awards in Fiction (1997) for its attention to character and freshness of setting.
After a miscarriage, Catherine leaves her husband to grieve privately, believing that her grief can't be shared. A surprise encounter with a busybody neighbor, garden pests, and a laconic tree man help rouse her out of her mourning and open her eyes to the wider cycles - and bonds - of life.
Winner of the 1996 Writers@Work Fellowship in Fiction, this story takes place in a remote and eerie ghost town in the Eastern Sierra. Holly, a young archeologist grieving the death of her brother, finds that the bleak landscape holds surprising discoveries - from the promise of romance to professional opportunity. In the end she turns her back on both to choose a more lasting, if lonely, devotion.
Kit and Jeff move to the idyllic coastal town of Bodega Boy when he gets a postdoc fellowship at a marine lab. As a grant deadline looms at Jeff's lab, Kit begins pursuing her own professional interests while uncovering memories of her deceased father - both of which challenge her role as support to Jeff and her own notion of who she is and wants to be.
An athletic, handsome, all-American type mathematician and a wears-only-black, sophisticated translator discover, despite their differences, a fierce attraction. Yet the closer they become, the warier she gets - until a camping trip helps her see that the path to true intimacy lies outside of bed.
When confronted with surprising evidence of her lover's life apart from her, a copywriter in NYC wakes up to her role in his deceit. Set against a desolate winter urban landscape - "New York City would be her lover now" - the story is about the way we protect what's most fragile inside us, often finding consolation in a museum, a rare plant, or solitude.
"A Snow-swept Gem of a Love Story"
Robin, aged nine, is visiting the LA suburbs with her parents and asthmatic brother. It's July 1969, the smog is awful, the parents drink all day, and the astronauts are about to land on the moon. Don't get there, she begs them; make a wrong turn. Grown-ups muck everything up, she knows - by seeing more than she can fully understand in the behavior of the adults around her. But when her parents leave her and her brother with an irresponsible babysitter, she steps into the role she resists - on her terms.
A stained-glass artist finds herself threatened when her teenaged daughter forms a close friendship. Memories of her own best teenaged friendship, and of an unsettling encounter amid ancient ruins, force the artist to face her own role in destruction.