“A Writer”: A PEN USA Outreach Essay

If you missed Pete’s panel/talk at Skylight last week, his essay is up at the PEN Center USA website.


And then a writer goes to a special event like, for example, the PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship Meet and Greet at Skylight Books. You go and stand outside, looking in through the front doors. You stand outside for a very long time and then go home without having gone in. Another time, you walk past those front doors, walking at a brisk pace, craning your neck to get a peek inside, but not stopping. And another time, you stop at the front doors and pretend to be looking at your cellphone, checking messages, and not going in. You get a call while standing there, and then you take the call and go back to your car and drive away. You feel relieved, having missed out on something that you really wanted but it was scary and anyway who did you think you were fooling?

The Emerging Voices Fellowship is a literary mentorship that aims to provide new writers who are isolated from the literary establishment with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to launch a professional writing career.

EV Meet & Greet: June 17th, Los Angeles

Emerging Voices Fellowship MEET & GREET

Are you interested in applying!?

Join Emerging Voices Fellows, alumni, and mentors in conversation for the 2018 application cycle. PEN Center USA presents summer cocktails, short readings, a fellowship overview and audience Q&A.

Meet and Greet Los Angeles

Saturday, June 17
Skylight Books

1818 N. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 9002

Patrick O’Neil, Jian Huang, Mike Padilla, Peter H.Z. Hsu, Kirin Khan, and Soleil David


New Story Coming Soon in Flapperhouse #14!

fh14coverPete’s newest short story, “Mission Concept,” will be published June 21 in the Summer 2017 issue of Flapperhouse! Flapperhouse is a literary journal with a particular & peculiar focus on the surreal, shadowy, sensual, and satirical. It’s the brainchild of Joseph P. O’Brien and has featured the work of Carroll Sun Yang, Kristine Ong Muslim, Leland Cheuk, Maria Pinto, and many, many flappy others.

Subscribe to Flapperhouse HERE!

“There Are No More Secrets On Planet Earth” Published Today in Your Impossible Voice

Cover14Pete’s short story “There Are No More Secrets On Planet Earth” was published today in Your Impossible Voice.

“There Are No More Secrets On Planet Earth” is a speculative fiction short story set a future where technology has allowed mankind to view the entire history of the Planet Earth on their television sets.

Here’s an excerpt:

Every secret ever lied about, covered up, buried, or repressed is now available for all to see, or is in the process of becoming available for all to see. The entire history of Earth, viewable by anyone with a $10,000/week subscription to Ectoscope™ or even a pocket full of credits to pump into a pay-by-the-minute Ectoscope™ Arcade machine.

Who would’ve thought time travel would turn out like this. No complicated machines, no wormholes, no lightning orbs, no silver DeLoreans, no spaceships slingshotting around the sun, no ancient magic awoken from the tomb of Qin Shi Huang.

None of that.

Just a really powerful telescope. A telescope with unlimited resolution and computers to track the trajectory of Earth’s reflection through space from today all the way back to the Big Bang.

Your Impossible Voice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit literary journal dedicated to advancing literary arts by supporting writers and poets, encouraging readership, and promoting academic literary scholarship. We publish brash and velvety new work from around the globe, as well as literary reviews, essays, and interviews. For a better idea of what our editors are looking for at the moment, please consult our call for submissions. Issues of the journal are available on our website and in print.

PEN EVs at Tongue & Groove


18198379_1716021498412639_1248918548926364660_n.jpgThe PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellows took the stage on Saturday, April 29th to read from the works in progress. Tongue & Groove is a Los Angeles based literary reading series hosted by Conrad Romo.

Photos by Wes Kriesel


Kirin Khan reads a scene from her novel-in-progress Bludgeon.


Soleil David reads from her forthcoming poetry collection Guerilla.


Peter H.Z. Hsu reads an excerpt from his short story “Astronauts.”


Jessica Shoemaker reads a short story from her upcoming collection Like Stonewall Jackson’s Arm.


Chinyere Nwodim reads her short story “Naked Lady Table.”


PEN USA Emerging Voices Reading: Saturday April 29


The 2017 Emerging Voices
at Tongue and Groove

Saturday, April 29 at 6 PM – 7 PM

The Hotel Cafe
1623 1/2 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

5:30 PM Doors | 6 PM Reading
$6 cover (21+)P

PEN Center USA and Tongue and Groove present a reading by the 2017 Emerging Voices Fellows at Hotel Café. Join us for a night of readings, music, and drinks.

Featuring: Soleil David, Peter H.Z. Hsu, Kirin Khan, Chinyere Nwodim, and Jessica Shoemaker. And Musical Guest: Mister Paradise.

— R.S.V.P. on Facebook —


“Asleep For Days” published today in F(r)online


Pete’s short story “Asleep For Days” was published today in F(r)online, the online imprint of F(r)iction Magazine.

“Asleep For Days” is a pseudo-utopic 2nd-amendment after-life love story. In other words, it’s weird.

Here’s an excerpt:

Day 7

I’m at home, cleaning my gun. I unintentionally fire a bullet. The bullet goes through my hand, through my dad’s television set, through the wall, through my neighbor’s wall and into my neighbor’s house. In that house a baby is nursing in her mother’s arms. As the bullet makes its way to the baby, the baby draws her gun and fires twice at my bullet.

One of the baby’s bullets hits my bullet and knocks it off its path.

Her other bullet travels through the wall and back into my house, striking my other hand. I look at my hands, which now have matching bullet holes in them.

I think that this must have religious significance.

I tell my dad to call the Vatican.

He calls an ambulance instead.

F(r)iction Magazine is the brainchild of a ragtag team of editors, artists, and writers, F(r)iction is experimental. F(r)iction is strange. F(r)iction pokes the soft spots, touches nerves most would rather remain protected. F(r)iction is secrets and truths and most importantly—stories. F(r)iction is weird, in every respect. Support F(r)iction HERE



PEN USA Freedom to Write Essays

PEN Center USA asked their 2017 Emerging Voices Fellows to answer the question: “What does Freedom to Write mean to you?”

Each EV Fellow discusses the role that freedom of expression, the keystone of PEN Center USA’s mission, has played in their lives as writers, readers, and literary citizens.


photo: Bill Kennedy

From Soleil DavidI come from a people who believe that words can change the world. Even more than that, I come from a people who have proved this. From the struggle for independence from Spain to the overthrow of a dictator, writing has been instrumental to the fall of so many empires. The Philippines is only one of so many examples all over the world. The United States may be on the verge of tyranny, but the good news is that the world has always had the tools to fight. Words can, words will, and words have won against despotic rulers. We just have to be brave enough to write them…


photo: Tyler Coleman

From Jessica Shoemaker: When I was six, my mom gave me a diary. She told me that I could write whatever I wanted in it, and she would never read it. That night I wrote, “Today at school I played with my ball. Me and Bethie roller skated.” I had a friend named Beth, but I never called her Bethie. I just wanted to feel the kind of closeness with somebody that compels a nickname…


photo: Bill Kennedy

From Kirin KhanWhen writers are brave, we make others brave. Authoritarian regimes throughout the world know this—this is why they work so hard to spin and discredit, to hurt us or make us disappear. To shut us up one way or another. Writers are truth-seekers, and authoritarians thrive in misinformation. We are all enemies of the state…


photo: Tyler Coleman

From Chinyere NwodimFreedom. For a long time, I associated the word with physically being unshackled and unrestrained. For a long time, it held no real value because I didn’t understand what it cost to be free. I didn’t realize that freedom needed to be pushed, stretched, and exercised or it would atrophy like an unused muscle…

IMG_0194 copy

photo: Tyler Coleman

From Peter H.Z. HsuThere’s nothing like a book. Its value is unique, a prolonged experience of engagement with the imagination. Those ratty paperbacks weren’t just an escape. There was something tying those stories together—underdogs and victims rising up and embracing their power, loyal friends banding together to face a great and terrible evil. Scared people doing things they were scared to do…

What Does Freedom to Write Mean to You?

Every year, PEN Center USA asks the five Emerging Voices Fellows to answer the question, “What does Freedom to Write mean to you?” Over the next five weeks, each of the Fellows talks about the role that freedom of expression, the keystone of PEN Center USA’s mission, has played in their lives as writers, readers, and literary citizens.


Photo: Bill Kennedy

“There’s nothing like a book. Its value is unique, a prolonged experience of engagement with the imagination. Those ratty paperbacks weren’t just an escape. There was something tying those stories together—underdogs and victims rising up and embracing their power, loyal friends banding together to face a great and terrible evil. Scared people doing things they were scared to do.”

PEN Center USA’s mission is to stimulate and maintain interest in the written word, to foster a vital literary culture, and to defend freedom of expression domestically and internationally.



California Literary Journals

This is a list of literary journals based in California. It’s long but not comprehensive, so if you know of any others, please feel to message me or leave a comment below. Happy reading!

note: updated March 7, 2017


580 Split: Affiliated with Mills College in Oakland. Published in print once per year.


Angel City Review: “Committed to bringing the cutting edge in fiction and poetry to a modern audience. We aim to present a diverse range of both writers and genres that run the gamut from experimental narratives to grittier fiction with a literary air.” Published in Ebook twice per year.

Angels Flight*Literary West: “Angels Flight • literary west is a new vehicle to explore uncharted stories of Los Angeles and beyond.”

Arroyo Literary Review: Affiliated with California State University, East Bay. Published in print once per year.

Berkeley Fiction Review: Affiliated with University of California, Berkeley. Published in print once per year.

California Quarterly:  a quarterly journal devoted to poetry, is sponsored by the California State Poetry Society. Published in print four times per year.

Chaparral: an online journal featuring poetry from Southern California.

Dash: “dash publishes content that pushes the boundaries of short, emphatic expression.  We communicate more with less.” Affiliated with California State University, Fullerton.

Dryland: Los Angeles underground art and writing. “Based in South Central Los Angeles. Los Angeles, the land of all skin colors and all classes. We’re looking for Los Angeles. Waste…decay…rebirth and all.” Published once every three months, in print and online.


Dum Dum Zine #5

Dum Dum Zine: Dum Dum is an extraordinarily crafted experimental art-lit zine. Published in print once per year. Online content added regularly.

Eleven Eleven: Affiliated with California College of the Arts. Published in print and online twice per year.

Entropy: “ENTROPY is a website featuring literary and related non-literary content. We like to think of ourselves as more than just a magazine or a website, but as also a community space. We seek to create a space where writers can engage with other writers, can participate in a literary community, and where thinkers can collaborate and share both literary and non-literary ideas. This means that we seek to cover topics such as video games, graphic novels, interactive literature, science fiction, fantasy, music, film, art, and other topics in addition to literary reviews, interviews, conversations, and articles on experimental literature, translation, small press practices, and performance.”

Exposition Review: “Exposition Review is an independent, multi-genre literary journal that publishes narratives by new, emerging, and established writers in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, stage & screen, experimental, art & photography, and comics.” Published online oncer per year.

Faultline: Affiliated with University of California, Irvine. Published in print once per year.

Fourteen Hills: Affiliated with San Francisco State University. Published in print twice per year.

Ghost Town: Affiliated with California State University, San Bernardino. Published once or twice a year online.

Haight Ashbury Literary Journal: “HALJ’s voices are often of people who have been marginalized, oppressed, or abused. HALJ strives to bring literary arts to the general public, to the San Francisco community of writers, to the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, and to people of varying ages, genders, ethnicities, and sexual preferences. The Journal is produced as a tabloid to maintain an accessible price for low-income people.”

Joyland Magazine, Los Angeles: “Based on the idea that fiction is an international movement supported by local communities Joyland is a literary magazine that selects stories regionally. Our editors work with authors connected to locales across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto as well as places underrepresented in cultural media.” Published online weekly and in print twice per year.

The Los Angeles Review: “The Los Angeles Review, a semi-annual literary journal established in 2003, is the voice of Los Angeles, and the voice of the nation. With its multitude of cultures, Los Angeles roils at the center of the cauldron of divergent literature emerging from the West Coast.” Published in print once per year, and online 52 times per year.

Lunch Ticket: Affiliated with Antioch University. Published online twice per year.

tnb-pillThe Nervous Breakdown: “The Nervous Breakdown features the work of published and emerging authors and poets from around the world. The Nervous Breakdown celebrates vibrant and provocative voices in contemporary fiction.” Online content published on a rolling basis.

The Normal School: Affiliated with California State University, Fresno. Published in print twice per year.

Penumbra: Affiliated with California State University, Stanislaus. Published in print once per yer.

only_light_cover_smThe Rattling WallThe Rattling Wall is funded by PEN Center USA and published by Narrow Books. Their most recent issue is titled Only Light Can Do That: 100 Post-Election Poems, Stories, and Essays. 

Reed Magazine: “A West Coast journal with worldwide reach, Reed, like California, is an ongoing, expanding, and wondrous mosaic of thoughts, ideas, and emotions. We are proud to be the literary heart of Silicon Valley.” Affiliated with San Jose State University. Published in print once per year.

RipRap: Affiliated with California State University, Long Beach. Published in print once per year.

The Rumpus: “At The Rumpus, we’ve got essays, reviews, interviews, music, film, short fiction, and poetry—along with some kick-ass comics. We know how easy it is to find pop culture on the Internet, so we’re here to give you something more challenging, to show you how beautiful things are when you step off the beaten path.”

San Pedro River Review: Published by Blue Horse Press and located in San Pedro. Published in print twice a year.

Santa Ana River Review: Affiliated with University California, Riverside.

2016-fall-smrcoverSanta Monica Review: “In nearly thirty years of production, the Review has featured both first-time writers and established literary authors, with a focus on showcasing the work of Southern California and Pacific Rim writers.” Affiliated with Santa Monica College. Published in print twice per year.

Sensitive Skin: “Sensitive Skin features art, writing and music without rules or boundaries by both famous and emerging artists, writers, and musicians from around the globe.” Published in print

Spectrum Literary Journal: Affiliated with University of California, Santa Barbara. Published in print once per year.

Statement Magazine: Affiliated with California State University, Los Angeles. Published in print once per year.

Tayo Literary Magazine: “Tayo cultivated emerging poetry and prose, publishing writing that knifes, lifts, and strikes at the emotive truth of all things lost and adrift.” Published in print once per year and online Quarterly.

3p_logo_bigThe Threepenny Review: The Threepenny Review is a well-regarded quarterly of the arts and society which has been published since 1980. Every issue contains excellent essays, stories, poems, and memoirs, plus beautiful black-and-white photographs. The Threepenny Review Reading Room features several incredible pieces, including work by Roberto Bolano, Victoria Chang, Henri Cole, Mary Gaitskill, Yiyun Li, David Mamet, Cynthia Ozick, and Gary Shteyngart. Published in print four times per year.

Westwind: “Los Angeles is a crazy collision of intersections, and Westwind, UCLA’s student-run journal of the arts, strives to capture this spirit. We seek to provide a platform for the weird and wonderful voices found all over the greater Los Angeles area in whatever form they arise.” Affiliated with UCLA. Published in print once per year, and online twice.

Zoetrope All-Story: “Zoetrope: All-Story is a quarterly literary publication founded by Francis Ford Coppola in 1997 to explore the intersection of story and art, fiction and film.” Published in print four times per year.

ZYZZYVA: “A San Francisco journal of arts and letters.” Famously introduced American readers to Murakami. Published in print four times per year.