GNU – Winter 2018


Welcome to the GNU Journal – Winter 2018 edition!

For this publication, we received hundreds of submissions from writers and artists around the globe. To view the selected pieces, click the 2018 section under each genre tab above.

Thank you to all who submitted to this new edition. We are pleased to share your talents.



The motto of the GNU literary journal is “All Genres are Created Equal.”

We accept traditional literary fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction; but we are also friendly to genre fiction, YA literature, short plays, comics, photography, and writing that defies classification. The GNU is an annual online literary journal run by the MFA students at National University. We never charge a submission fee.

Our editorial staff seeks a wide aesthetic and especially desires excellent work, experimental or traditional—or somewhere in between. Please use our online submission form to submit original and previously unpublished work or if published prior, the creator retains all rights.

Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please, withdraw your pieces promptly if it’s accepted elsewhere. Send email to:

Submit no more than a total of five (5) bodies of work combined across the following categories. Last day to submit is 12/15/2017. To submit, click HERE.

Thank you,

The GNU Journal Editorial Staff

Meet Author Kristen Debler


Kristen Debler is Coast Miwok and the proud member of The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.  She is a political/social activist, owner of an online ghostwriting company, and a freelance writer. She has over ten years of organizing and writing experience. Her poetry and short stories have been published in various magazines and journals. She publishes under her pen-name Rosemarie Sage and Tribal /Activist Name Yulu Ewis. She graduated college with a Certificate in Pre-Tribal Law, a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications, a Master’s of Science in Legal Studies and is currently obtaining a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.

GNU Staff: What are your poetic influences?

KD: The two poets that opened up my eyes to the world of poetry were Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. Throughout my undergraduate years I started to get more involved in Tribal cultural, governmental and political affairs. In my sophomore year I took a Post-Colonial Literature class and I was introduced to a Joy Harjo; a Native American activist, singer, writer, professor and Poet. Her work showed me another way that poetry could be used, as a political voice, and through her work and influence my poetry journey started.


GNU Staff: How are poetry and storytelling valuable in your tribe’s culture?

KD: Storytelling is how we kept our culture and traditions alive. Stories were not only used to teach morals, and good decision making, they were also our way of entertainment. A good storyteller could keep their audience enthralled for hours.  Poetry is my version of storytelling. I believe that storytelling has always been my calling and poetry is the way that I express my vision, and share my stories with the world. I used poetry to express my culture and what we are going through today.

GNU Staff: How do you weave the language and religion of your cultural heritage into your work? 

KD: Weaving is a metaphorical term. When we think of the term weaving, we often think of a basket. Weaving a basket together takes skill because these baskets hold more than food; they are the fabric that holds all of our traditions together. There is no particular method to follow when I am writing. Weaving the language and spiritual beliefs of my culture within my work is often the same as breathing the morning air. The words I use just belong – it is as if inspiration flows through me and I am just the conduit that relays the message for the world to hear.


GNU Staff: What are your thoughts about poetry as a political act and agent of change?

KD: Words are power! Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Marilyn Chin, Paula Gunn Allen, and Joy Harjo (among others) have used poetry to express the harshness of the world they live in, as well as fuel the change they wanted to see in the world. I feel the same way. Singers use music; artists use murals and paintings; and we writers / poets use words. All of these venues help bring people into our reality and help them feel what we want them to feel.

GNU Staff: Why do you feel performing your work in public and making videos is important?

KD: As a reader, opening a fresh, new book is one of the best feelings I could ever experience. However, with the advancement of technology, the writing world has entered a new realm. People read E-books, listen to books on their phone or in their car, and the written word is starting to become less desired and almost obsolete.  This is a scary thought for writers. The only way we can keep our storytelling as desirable as it has been for years, is to become more creative.  YouTube, competitions, and performances are all popular right now. It is a way to expose my work to a different type of audience who might not have been interested in it before.


KD: Also, performing and recording my poetry is a way to let others experience my emotions, and what I meant when I wrote a particular piece.

KD: I have embarked on a new journey creating a video book with my thesis and other political poetry. Here is a link to the first of many videos that will make up what will become “Ope” in video form.

GNU Staff: For what issues do you feel your poems raise awareness, and what can people do to help join the cause?

KD: My poetry addresses issues that are prevalent in Native American communities. The questions of native rights, water rights, and disenrollment have been brought up within our communities. Disenrollment is an issue that I have been working with to tackle with other natives. This is an issue that questions our own sovereignty because of issues such as greed and power. Disenrolling members makes us look like clubs and organizations, rather than a group of people connected through blood, culture, traditions, language, and religion. People can join the anti-disenrollment cause by joining Stop Tribal Genocide on Facebook.


GNU Staff: Do the Internet and social media contribute to the well-being of poetry?

KD: I think so. The internet and social media connect artists to people that might not be able to view their work before. Networking has become easier, and you can get more views on YouTube in a day than having people picking up your book. The internet allows people to view you, read you and learn about you at any given moment. This can be scary at times, but it can also be very rewarding and inspiring.

GNU Staff: How important is the accessibility of meaning? Should a reader have to work hard to ‘solve’ the meaning of the poem?

KD: As a writer, I understand the importance of metaphors. However, they can be misleading when you want your audience to know your meaning. Painting a picture is important because we want to create a scene that brings others into our world. I know as a reader that if I have to read things over and over again to get different meanings, I start to get agitated. This is one of the reasons I try to make sure my meanings are readily accessible to those who are reading or listening to my poems.

GNU Staff: What books are you reading right now?

KD: Currently I’m reading An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley, 1491 by Charles C. Mann, and Grand Avenue by Greg Sarris.


GNU Staff: What advice do you have for aspiring poets?

KD: Words are power! Words are powerful! Remember that when you are writing. Writing is a message that you share with the world. It is an art form. It’s not about publishing or even about publicity. Writing is about finding what you are passionate about and let the moves speak through you. When the words flow through you like ink from a pen, you just know you have to write it down. You don’t have a choice. I personally love that feeling.

How can readers reach you and your work?

Readers can reach me via email: if they have any questions.

If interested in reading any of the stories I have written, please visit:

Visit my blog site at:, and if anyone is interested in my company’s ghostwriting services they can view my work on my website (, and my portfolio (


Submissions Are Closed


GNU Journal Home Page Image.jpg



Please send previously unpublished fiction (any genre), poetry, essays, plays, and artwork to:



Please submit only one story, play, or one nonfiction piece at a time, and no more than five poems at a time. You may submit work as many times as you wish, but we ask that you wait to hear back from us before submitting further work for consideration. The maximum word count for submissions is 7,000, and we are not currently seeking work about any particular theme or topic.


All work should be in 12 point font and double-spaced. Please make sure the subject line of your email includes the following: SUBMISSION – GENRE – TITLE OF WORK – WORD COUNT. The piece itself should only include a title. Please include your contact information within the body of the email.


If you are submitting artwork, please email us a .jpg, .png files are preferred. We are happy to consider original artwork in black and white and in color. Include all caption information for each piece: title, year, medium, dimensions, and any relevant information.

Meet Author Krista Wagner

A Thrilling Journey into Faith

Interview with Author Krista Wagner



Krista Wagner was born in 70’s Southern California. She lives with her Marine Corp veteran husband, three very entertaining children, and an indispensable faith in Christ. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is an English adjunct instructor.


Fabricio Correa:  In your novel Intent, the protagonist Raylee Johnson lives a sheltered life in a small town. Do you share similarities with Raylee’s upbringing?


Krista Wagner: Not really. My parents divorced when I was a baby and I grew up in the city. Both my parents were not Christians. The one thing Raylee and I have in common is that we are both an only child.


FC: The bleak setting possesses an aura of mystery where water is a character itself. How does water as an element interact with the Protagonist?


KW: In two primary ways: as a place where she finds comfort in the company of her loved ones (her parents, Billy) and as a place of revelation. In the second half of the novel, the water begins to serve as a metaphor for unease and danger as Raylee starts to unravel the mysteries behind the deaths of those close to her.


FC: Raylee starts out as an impressionable, naïve girl living with her overprotective parents. Do you think her parents somehow contributed to her being unprepared to go out in the world by herself? If not, do you think all the love they gave her actually made her stronger than any adversity?


KW: I think her parents believed in her more than she believed in herself, so it was more of Raylee’s insecurities that created this doubt. And, ultimately, her parents love and the faith they supplied gave her the courage she needed.


FC: Raylee encounters tragedy in her life which shatters her “glass house” existence. How did that shake Raylee’s expectation of self based on her dependent demeanor?


KW: She became bitter. The faith she grew up in became fractured and redirected into her high school crush, Billy.


FC: Religion has a crucial role in Raylee’s life. Her tragedies made her question her faith only to allow it to grow stronger inside her. How do you see the connection between hardship and faith?


KW: Adversities do not have to overtake us when we have faith in God. He is our Rock and our Comforter. Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


FC: Your novel is set in the 90’s. How do you think your novel affects the digital era teen?


KW: It reminds us of how much simpler life was without all of the technology and how much more people interacted face-to-face. I’ve had younger readers experience a nostalgia for something they never had.


FC: Tell us about your academic background. 


KW: I received my BA in English from UMBC, my MA in English Composition from CSUSB, and my MFA in Creative Writing from National University. My debut novel Intent, a spiritual dramatic thriller, was published in 2014. Rian Field, a psychological thriller, The Gold, a middle-grade fantasy, and indigo, a YA realistic issue-driven novel, were published in 2016. I have been an English Instructor since 2008.


FC: How can your readers reach you and your work?


KW: I can be found all over social media:


You may find Krista’s novel, Intent on Amazon.


INTENT by Krista Wagner

Trying to deal with small town life and feeling that she has no real purpose, Raylee Johnson finds a new source of confidence when her former high school crush returns to town. When she begins to feel better about the direction her life is going, Raylee is thrust into a maze of doubt, uncertainty, murder, and deceit where the only thing she does know for sure is that her life is engulfed in lies.



Fabricio Correa is a Brazilian-born writer and blogger based in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in law from Universidade Salgado de Oliveira and is currently attending National University’s MFA creative writing program.




Meet Author Sherri Miranda

Between “Secrets and Lies,”

a Conversation with Author Sherri Miranda


Fabricio Correa – What made you choose El Salvador as the background for your novel? What inspired you?

Sherri Miranda: I protested the US support of the civil war for more than ten years. I also was married to a Salvadoran during part of that time & went to ES in ’82. I went with a fact-finding delegation in ’02. By then, I knew I would write the story, but had little time & no idea how it would look.

The facts of the war & knowing my country supported it hurt me deeply. Then learning how loving & generous Salvadorans are brought me to the point that I HAD to write this novel. It wasn’t going away no matter what I did.

FC: You delve into harsh realities of a war-torn third world country. Would you say your storytelling stresses “love” as a theme instead of “war”? How so?

SM: Yes, Love is the main theme, as well as “CHOOSING” family. The idea of One World & all of us being “Saviors” are two other themes. And, of course, the theme “War is Hell” is there. The way war tore families apart should be evident if I did my job in writing this story.

FC: How long did the research process take you to dig the historical events mentioned in your novel? Did you travel to El Salvador?

SM: As I mentioned, I went to El Salvador twice. BUT I lived with Salvadorans for 20 years. I met many Central Americans while living in New Orleans, as well as other Latinos. Then, while in San Diego & Los Angeles, I taught many Mexicans & Central Americans, as well as students from many other countries.

In some ways, it was more than 30 years of research as I only decided to add Roque Dalton’s story after I had written several drafts.

FC: Abuela seems to be the character who is the connection between all the others in the book. Tell us about conceiving her.

SM: Abuela is the mythical mother that holds the family together, that passes on the history. She is also Universal Love & the Protector of life.

There is someone similar to abuela that took the time to teach me many things. The real woman, though, never knew her parents because of the massacre in 1932.

FC: The title mentions “secrets” and “lies.” What are the complications of these two concepts within the story?

SM: Our secrets & lies come back to haunt us in ways we can never imagine. I remember a psychological study where a woman who was raped & kept it a secret ended up with a daughter that was also raped. There is something about these secrets & the lies that then need to be told in order to keep that secret; somehow it creates more lies & more cover-ups. It’s a vicious cycle.

FC: Did you attend an MFA program?

SM: I have an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. I loved the program & although, I was unable to work on the novel until the thesis courses, it shaped my story in innumerable ways. My only regret is that, because it was all on-line, I never met any of my classmates. I met some other MFA grads & a couple of professors later when I was invited to present at the 2016 AWP Conference in LA.

FC: The assassination of priests, nuns, civilians, revolutionaries as well as the raping and torturing of people is a tragic subject. What do you hope might be the impact of telling these stories for society?

SM: Hopefully, it will help people to see what happens when the rich & powerful no longer care about their countrymen. The extremes to which the powerful go to make millions that they will never use seems absurd to me. The demonizing of those who serve the poor, as well as the poor, themselves, should be a lesson to all. Even more so now than when the novel was first written. Three short years has shown us how what was done in El Salvador & other parts of the world has now come home to roost.

FC: Where can your readers find out more about your work?

SM: Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:

Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song, too.

San Diego Book Review gave “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” 5’s.

An article about her debut novel. Click here.

An article about the writer’s group Sherri Miranda started. Click here.

An interview by Fiona McVie on her Authors Interviews WordPress blog can be found here.

The San Diego Public Library’s 50th Annual Local Authors Exhibit featured Sherrie’s novel. Read the article here.

You may find Sherrie here:
GoodReads Author page
Sherrie’s WordPress blog

Interview conducted by Fabricio Correa

Fabricio Correa is a Brazilian-born writer and blogger based in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Law from Universidade Salgado de Oliveira and is currently attending National University’s MFA Creative Writing program.

GNU Journal Winter Issue 2017

The GNU Journal Winter Issue 2017 is now live.

book-1_gnu-journal_a-feast-of-the-mind_winter-poetry-issue-2017_001-b    book-2_gnu-journal_a-feast-of-the-mind_winter-short-story-issue2017_002-b    book-3_gnu-journal_a-feast-of-the-mind_winter-nonfiction_art-work_plays-issue-2017_003-b






Click on the book covers above to view the GNU Journal Issues for 2017. If the links in eBooks are non-functional, download the file, open it, and then the links will function.


A Letter from the GNU Staff:

We would like to thank the writers who sent in their piece(s) to the GNU Staff for the Winter 2017 Publication. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and it takes a whole lot of sweat, tears, and angst to put one’s words on paper—let alone the self-talk and confidence required to share and/or submit completed work for publication consideration.

The dedication and continued support of the GNU Staff made the creation of this body of work a reality. Without the assistance of the editors/readers, as well as the unwavering support and guidance of Professor Frank Montesonti, this publication would not have been possible.

Meet Author Ann Y. K. Choi

“We Don’t often Talk about Sensitive Issues!”


Originally from Chung-Ju, South Korea, Ann immigrated to Canada in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. Ann is also a graduate of both the Humber School for Writers and the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

Ann is the 2012 winner of the Marina Nemat Award which recognizes the top manuscript completed by a Creative Writing Certificate graduate at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at National University in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was released on May 3, 2016, by Simon & Schuster Canada. Ann is featured on “13 Canadian Authors Everyone Should Read,” by Bustle magazine.

An Interview with Ann Y. K. Choi

Fabricio Correa (FC): When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

Ann Y. K. Choi (AYKC): As a teenager and young adult, I struggled with depression. Every mental health professional I worked with encouraged me to write, which I started doing in my early twenties. For a long time, I wrote poems because it was the best way to express myself and to make sense of the world around me. Still, I lacked the confidence to consider becoming a “real” writer – which in my heart I truly wanted. Instead, for many years I worked as an editor and then as an English teacher. It wasn’t until one of my students called me a hypocrite for telling him to follow his dream when I wasn’t doing the same, that I finally committed to writing and publishing a novel.

FC: What writers have influenced you the most?

AYKC: Growing up in the 80s, I devoured anything written by Margaret Atwood, a great Canadian author. I loved that her novel Edible Woman was set in Toronto, Canada where I lived. It left me thinking that I could also write stories here, which was quite empowering. I also liked that Atwood’s female protagonists were complex and that her novels could spark rich discussions around social, political and cultural issues. I’m also a huge fan of short stories. Raymond Carver’s “less is more” writing style really appeals to me. Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club is still one of my favorite novels because it was the first book I read with an Asian protagonist. After reading it, I wanted to tell my own stories.

FC: Tell us about your process when writing a book.

AYKC: I work full-time and have a family so writing used to fall on the bottom of my to-do list. It took five years to write a draft of my first novel. Still, what motivated me to write regularly were the stories I wanted to tell. Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety captures the Korean immigrant struggles that my family and the families I knew growing up faced. I wanted my daughter to know about that. My attitude towards writing changed after signing with a publisher and an agent; it’s now a job with real deadlines and consequences. As a result, my writing has moved near the top of my to-do list. I wish I’d made it more of a priority earlier on.

FC: What connection do you seek to establish with your readers?

AYKC: The only reader I had in mind as I wrote Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety was my daughter, so it has been incredible to meet and talk with people who have read that novel. They often share their personal stories which I find inspiring and immensely gratifying.

I worried that readers might not be able to connect with the novel I’m currently writing as it is set in Korea during the 1920s. Still, after many conversations with writers and readers, I’ve committed to writing the book. I’m hoping my protagonist’s story and the themes the novel explores – family, sacrifice, honor and betrayal – will resonate with readers.

FC: Was it difficult writing about such an emotional theme?

AYKC: Like many first novels, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is largely based on what I know best – my own life and those around me. I was concerned about how my family would respond and how the Korean community, in general, might react. We don’t often talk about “sensitive” issues like domestic violence, negative mental health, racial tension, and especially our struggles with personal demons. I’m hoping to use the novel to generate discussions with readers and even the students I currently work with. Unfortunately, many of them continue to face the same challenges I did growing up.

The finished novel brought me great feelings of relief as the idea to write the story existed for decades, first as a collection of poems, then a short story, and finally, a book.

FC: Did you attend an MFA Program?

AYKC: Yes, after completing two Creative Writing certificate programs in Toronto, I found myself wanting to delve even deeper into the subject. I chose National University in California to complete my MFA. Receiving constructive feedback and learning how to give meaningful feedback have been critical in my development as a writer. Each of my classes, from a pedagogy course to examining the 18th-century works of Anne Radcliffe, allowed me to look at writing and reading using both a creative and analytical eye. The MFA program also encouraged me to reflect upon my writing which I don’t think everyone does. This led me to experiment and engage more deeply with it.

FC: What projects are you working on at the moment?

AYKC: My second novel is set in 1924 Korea before it became a divided nation. When I found out that my great-great grandfather took a second wife (which was legal back then), my heart sank hearing about how upset my great-great grandmother was by this. I thought it would be interesting to write a revenge story loosely based on her experiences. Because I’m taking many creative liberties, I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m also fascinated by this time in history as Korea was under Japanese occupation.

FC: Where can other readers find you and get to know more about your work?

AYKC: They can visit my website at or follow me on Twitter @annykchoi.

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is available on Amazon.


A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean-Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.

Interview conducted by: Fabricio Correa

Fabricio Correa is a Brazilian-born writer and blogger based in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Law from Universidade Salgado de Oliveira and is currently attending National University’s MFA Creative Writing program.


2017 GNU Submissions Now Open

Creative inspiration

Submit your work and become part of the history of this comprehensive creative journal.

The deadline for submissions for the 2017 GNU is

December 15th, 2016.

Publication will be January 2017.

The GNU seeks to provide an inclusive literary journal with an appreciation of all genres. Traditional literary works, short plays, young adult fiction, poetry, literary fiction, new adult, children’s literature, horror, comedy, western, mystery, historical fiction, memoir, personal essay, short fiction – even comics…you name it, we accept it.

Please limit submissions to five (5) bodies of work in total.

Writers retain all rights to their work.

Visit our submission’s page for more details

NOTE: if submission link is down, please email content to with the subject line: GENRE TYPE_Title_Jan 2017

GNU: Literary Journal. Issue #1. Winter 2016.



There you are! Lovely! We’ve been expecting you. Please—come in, come in.

You can leave your troubles at the door. The news as well. Sure, right there is fine. Shoes are optional. Socks and slippers too. What’s a smelly foot or two between friends? Go ahead—put them up if you like.

Well, we’ve made it to the start of another year. A time for resolutions. A time when we are more likely to remember that any ole’ day can be a brand new start, for our writing practice, our patience, our diet (which could probably use a little more variety, and for me fewer lattes).

As I sat reading all of the pieces submitted for publication, I wondered at the variety, at the fact that even though the experiences conveyed may have been utterly unfamiliar to me, the resulting emotions were not. It reminded me that at our deepest level we have more commonalities than differences. We have the capacity to laugh, to love. To hate. We are, after all, all human.

This publication seeks to celebrate differences, in genres and styles for certain, but hopefully more. As you enjoy this feast of food for the soul, may you nibble on something different. May your heart be nourished. If you are feeling brave, slip into someone else’s shoes, however briefly, and see if the change in perspective alters anything for you. The theory is that it will make us stronger, together more resilient to negativity and hate, which the media chases with the fervor of bodachs in a Dean Koontz novel.

With the greatest of admiration, thank you to all of the writers who were brave enough to bare their souls to strangers by submitting their work. A big thanks and virtual hugs to the readers who neglected significant others, children, pets, and various plant life in the making of this journal. I give a deep curtsy to Frank Montesonti and National University, the proud parents of this journal, who are visionary in their approach of inclusion.

Stay as long as you like, my friend. You are welcome anytime. It is an honor to be the one to greet you at the door.


Diane O’Shea, MFA

Editor in Chief