June 2013 Open Mic at Village Books a.k.a. “Night of the Shags”

Dear Writers:

The series has spontaneously taken off at our open mic! It may have been Vince Landi who started it with his story “Two Painters,” but rather than worry about shaving an excerpt to fit the 7-minute time limit or trying to read a story at the speed of light, writers are bringing a story to read over the course of two or three open mics.

And the crowd loves it!

Our June theme was Bounty of the Seasons, so of course I brought my copy of Edible Selby, a book about gardens, kitchens, restaurants, and homes and the amazing people who run them.

From Edible Selby: "Hi Angelo! What is the meaning of life?" "When you are born, you are irrelevant! Then you spend all your life to become relevant. Then you die."

From Edible Selby:
“Hi Angelo! What is the meaning of life?”
“When you are born, you are irrelevant! Then you spend all your life to become relevant. Then you die.”

Another element that threatened to make itself an open mic tradition this time out is The Shag.

Yep, that glorious disaster of a haircut that your own momma or the kid next door could give you while you sat on a kitchen chair in the bathroom even if she’d never spent a day in hairdressing school, and which any of us of a certain age most likely proudly sported above our legwarmers at one time or another, thanks to Jane Fonda, Pat Benatar, and the oh-so-dreamy David Cassidy/Keith Partridge.

Shags these days, called by many other names, are far more sophisticated, but it was those brave early ’80s haircuts that paved the way for the luscious locks we see today.

David Cassidy (from DavidCassidyFansite.com)

David Cassidy (from DavidCassidyFansite.com)

So anyhoo . . .

The delightful Sabine Sloley opened the night with an excerpt from “Chip and Kitten Go to the Beach,” a continuation of a story she started reading to us in April. One mark of a good story is that we can remember it, and I for one readily recalled these characters and the situation and was excited to see what next turn of events awaited them. This is a tale in which the girl from the character’s dreams turns out to be real, but it’s not going to be a romance, but then again it might. Continue reading

About Town: Full-time Fiction Editor Opp!

Dear Writers:

Some great news about town!

Don’s miss the latest news from Field’s EndStory Slam at the Treehouse Cafe is slated for Thursday, July 25th at 7 p.m. in Lynnwood. Registration opens August 1st for all fall classes.

Saturday, July 20, 1-4 p.m., Matthew Brouwer will teach Using Kickstarter to Fund Your Creative Dream at the downtown Bellingham Food Co-op.

The awesome publisher Becker & Mayer has a spot for a full-time fiction editor in Bellevue. Check out the position description.

The Sun literary magazine is offering two full scholarships to its Big Sur Into the Fire retreat October 25-27.

Help Young Writers Flourish: Check out this very compelling short video for the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project being launched by area poets Kevin Murphy and Matthew Brouwer to offer writing classes to youth in the Juvenile Justice system that will result in a chapbook of the young writer’s work. You can donate by July 30 to the Kickstarter Campaign hoping to raise $2,000 needed to fully launch this terrific giving-back project.

Read more groovy posts from me and my kennel mates at Dogpatch Writers Collective. Woof!

If you have or know someone who has a daughter age 12 to teens who loves to write, then I hope you will tell them about the Little Novelist Workshop, a writing class I’ll teach especially for a parent and daughter team, on Saturday, November 2, at Whatcom Community College.

  • VB-by-day1-199x300Patriots and Politics is the optional theme of the next open mic on Monday, July 29 at 7 p.m. in the Readings Gallery at Village Books. The rosters fill early so be sure to sign up ahead of time at the main counter on the first floor or call (360)-671-2626.Write on!

XO Laurel Leigh

May 2013 Open Mic at Village Books ~ Memories and History

Dear Writers:

May’s open mic of course fell on Memorial Day, and that mood and theme underscored the night.

Poet Denise du Maurier

Poet Denise du Maurier

To our Monday ensemble of writers, we welcomed Linda Mercy, who joined this open mic for the first time and also kicked off the night with “My Mom’s Magic Scissors,” a story of a painful childhood bravely presented.

Janet Oakley came next, sharing a tense climbing scene from Timber Rose, her novel that is pending publication. Congrats, Janet! You have been working so hard!

Our special guests for the evening!

A couple very special guests dropped by to listen in.

Harvey Schwartz, with his usual flair, brought a prose piece called “Skin,” which tossed a surprising ending curve ball. He also read “Sputnik,” a poem of memory, worry, and wonder. Rather, “the sky is not the limit.”

Vince Landi continued his newly established tradition of the serial story for open mic, reading the concluding segment of his highly engaging story, “Two Painters.” What will he bring to read next? Continue reading

Pics from 2013 Chuckanut Writers Conference

Dear Writers: I was delighted to be back at the Chuckanut Writers Conference this year!

With Village Books Community Outreach Director Paul Hanson

At the 2013 Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham WA with Village Books Community Outreach Director and fellow writer Paul Hanson.

Gary Luke, Waverly Fitzgerald, Garth Stein, and Thor Hanson at the author book signing

Sasquatch Books Publisher Gary Luke and authors Waverly Fitzgerald, Garth Stein, and Thor Hanson at the author book signing.

Naseem Rahka's plenary session speech about the Grand Canyon and the writerly life moved many people to tears.

Naseem Rahka’s plenary session speech about the Grand Canyon and the writerly life moved many people to tears.

Panel Host and former Conference Organizer Nan Macy (with a slightly known writer seen in the background).

Panel Host and former Conference Organizer Nan Macy (with a slightly known writer seen in the background).

As you well know, there’s something special and unique about each writing conference and this one, co-hosted by Village Books and Whatcom Community College delivers its own mix of brilliant faculty, pitching opportunities, and plenty of chances for writers to mingle, including participating in evening open mics on day two of the conference.

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, and writer Garth Stein

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, which co-sponsors the conference, and writer Garth Stein, this year’s keynote speaker.

Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer Reviews and Amanda June Hagarty staff the Whatcom Writers and Publishers table

Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer Reviews and Amanda June Hagarty staff the Whatcom Writers and Publishers table.

Suzanne Paola at the author book signing

Suzanne Paola, who spoke on writing the book proposal, talks to a writer at the author book signing.

Each of the three years of the conference, my role has been different: I was the Emcee the first time out, attended as a Faculty Member last year (read about my talk on storyboarding), and this year was invited back as a Special Guest Presenter to give a morning briefing on how to pitch (you can read the text of my talk in the post Pitching 101). It was truly heartwarming to have writers run up to me throughout both days to report that they’d “done what I said” and had a successful pitching experience. I felt like a proud mama! Continue reading