Photo: Scotchman’s Point by J.S. Lender © 2021

YOUR EYES ARE CLOSED and you are breathing deeply and intentionally. With each inhale, your body is filled with energy and light. With each exhale, your body sheds stress and tension and problems from the long day. Your mind is focused and is as light as a feather, while your body is slowly becoming numb, one appendage at a time. You are not falling asleep but instead are slipping into a higher state of consciousness where every sound is a symphony and every smell is the inside of a warm French bakery at 4:30 AM.

How did you arrive at…

San Onofre — Photo by J.S. Lender

AS SOMEONE WHO arrived late to the literary party, I have become somewhat disillusioned by the uptight vibes that pervade the literary world. All of the reviews, workshops, blogs, online groups, instructional videos, striving for acceptance by agents and publishers, finding beta readers, etc, has been mind numbing for me. What I have learned during the past few years is that many writers have significant difficulty simply going with the flow and creating what comes to them naturally.

I spent several decades as a musician before becoming a writer, playing in all sorts of bands — working bar bands, ska…

San Onofre on April 27, 2021 — Photo by J.S. Lender

IT WAS THE DEAD SILENCE of the sighting that surprised me the most. I had always assumed that if I ever crossed paths with a shark in the ocean, my heart would race and my blood would pump furiously through my veins and my eyes would cartoonishly bulge out of my head. But that was not what happened.

During my 30 years as a surfer, I had never seen a shark in the water. I knew there were plenty of great whites up and down the west coast, but I never had the pleasure of meeting any of them. I…

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

EVERY SURFER REMEMBERS the year they caught their first wave. This year I’m celebrating 30 years as a surfer. During the past three decades, I’ve had plenty of long stretches stuck on dry land. Years of getting flabby and out of shape — not going anywhere near a beach because every waking moment was spent dropping off and picking up kids from daycare and chasing the dog down the street and trying to keep the house from catching on fire. My kids are still young, but I think I am back in the water for good this time.

Photo by little plant on Unsplash

WHEN I STARTED out as a brand-new writer on Medium three years ago, I had a very humble and simple goal: to complete and publish three short stories online. At the time, it seemed like a herculean task, and one that I was not completely confident I would achieve. The first story I published on Medium (in The Junction) was a Western about a cowboy who stole a box of golden nuggets and was then chased through a saloon by a baby-faced bounty hunter:

During the past three years I have just kept on writing. A collection of some of…

Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras on Unsplash

THE FIRST RULE to having a name like Sussudio is to never apply for any job that requires you to wear a name tag. The second thing to learn is how to keep a straight face and allow your eyes to stare blankly ahead when the person to whom you are speaking stutters and stammers and then finally laughs out loud at your ridiculous name.

My father picked my name for me in a bygone era. Despite all of the bitchin’ Rock N’ Roll names to choose from like Layla and Susie Q. and Lucille and Fabian, I ended up…

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

MASON SAT ON the soft white sand with his bare feet buried deep within the silicone crystals and his arms wrapped tightly around his knees, which were folded tightly against his thumping chest. He was sitting and watching and pondering. The wind blew harshly, causing the tops of the waves to spray into millions of tiny pieces and in no particular direction at all. The sun was setting and the sky was turning eerie shades of orange and purple and blue.

The waves looked big and dangerous and hollow. Each time one of them would crash onto shore, Mason could…

Photo by César Viteri on Unsplash

I HAVE PUBLISHED two books and they are on sale at local bookstores in my community. Every two or three months I visit these bookstores to chat with the owners and to inquire as to whether they need additional copies of my books to sell. During a recent visit, I came across a short story collection from around 1917 entitled “Nonsense Novels.” I perused the pages and decided to purchase this book because the stories were quite entertaining and the book was in good condition despite being more than 100 years old. …

Photo by Josh Withers on Unsplash

TO BE A WRITER is to live a life of the mind. Sometimes, alone with their thoughts, writers can toil and stress and spin themselves out of control.

I have been meditating off and on for several years. But in 2020, meditation and yoga became my way of life. Perhaps it was the combination of the worldwide pandemic, the collapsing economy, the fear that I may not be able to financially support my family, and the constant worrying about my physical health and the health of my family forced me to reassess the way I had been doing things. …

photo by author

LIKE MANY WRITERS, I get burned out on the writing process from time to time. Last month I independently published a new book for middle grade readers. Just for kicks, earlier this year I sent my manuscript to an agent to see if perhaps the book might be marketable. Of course, short story anthologies are typically not marketable, and the agent was not interested.

I then started to wonder how I could change the book to make it more marketable. Could I convert some of the stories into novellas? …

J.S. Lender

Fiction writer | husband and father of three | surfer | author of “Kaia and the Whale” | founder of Reef Point Press.

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