Helen Keller sums it up: “Literature is my Utopia.”
Carl Sagan amplifies:
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. (Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory, 1980)
From a Poet: “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and look at it, until it begins to shine.” Emily Dickinson
From a Master of Suspense: “She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.” Dean Koontz, Lightning.
Many thanks to David Pascale for sharing his collection of words on words.
The Las Vegas Literary Salon team says THANKS! The response to our book launch featuring Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry was amazing. We were busy greeting everyone and failed to count noses, but the guesstimate was forty attendees, twelve of whom were writers represented in the book.
We also want to thank Jan and Frank Beurskens for allowing us to use their venue – Stella’s – for the event. It was perfect. The setting, the historic vibe the building gives off, comfy seating, and a welcoming spirit. The building continues to be a work in progress, but it is clearly going to continue the Estella’s legacy of being a place where folks want to gather.
The Lit Salon also extends warm thanks to our writers and anyone who contributed – and continues to contribute – to the success of Tapestry. If you have the book already, please don’t skip over the acknowledgements. Take note of the folks who made the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s dream of an anthology of local writers come true.
As has been noted, this is a fund raiser for Las Vegas Literary Salon, so continued sales are important to our ability to achieve our mission of providing a safe space for writers, readers, and thinkers to meet, talk, and exchange ideas about writing and the written.
This will involve providing a platform for writers to exchange ideas about the art, crafts, excitement, and responsibilities of writing; to offer programs in publishing, writing, editing, book design, and other writing related topics; to support writers of all ages and abilities.
Readers may join in discussions that examine a variety of genres from poetry to fiction to non-fiction as well as to experience excitement, joy, and enlightenment. Read more about our ambitious but doable agenda here.
Tapestry is available on Amazon. More important, it’s available right here in Las Vegas from Paper Trail on Bridge Street and Books of the Southwest at FrankieAnnTiques on the Plaza. The Las Vegas Arts Council, our fiscal sponsor, also has books on hand for purchase.
Tapestry is worth the price – $10.99 – and an excellent gift idea for Christmas giving. If everyone is all sold out, never fear! I have copies.
Now for a wee bit of housekeeping. One of our guests on Dec. 5 left behind this cozy coat. If you know who it belongs to, email firstname.lastname@example.org so we may return it to its owner.
Thanks to those of you who offered to become a part of Las Vegas Literary Salon. You have been added to our mailing list. To avoid our email to you going into your spam folder, please add our email, email@example.com to your approved list.
Last, but by no means least, thanks Mary Rose and Bob Henssler for all your help in preparation for and implementation of the launch event, and to Patti Romero, whose thoughtful suggestions helped along the way.
Once nimble-fingered, strong, and knuckle-crackable, my hands have become autonomous lethal weapons always at the ready to attack my sense of self, to confound me, and to turn an innocent, heretofore intuitive movement into a booby trap.
I tape a package and tape sticks to my thumb; I pull gently at the vacuum cleaner, it leaps forward tangling its own cord into a heap of spaghetti. I grasp my well-worn, familiar mug and fingers miss the mark, shooting mug and coffee forward, out of reach. Singling out and retrieving one sheet of paper has become a major and arduous accomplishment, often concluding with several wrinkled, unusable discards.
As in a possible episode of “The Twilight Zone,” my ladies’ hands metamorphosed into independent claws disconnected from my autonomic nervous system. Once involuntary actions, such as rubbing my eye, now require detailed planning so as not to run the risk of poking out my eye. Now, I consciously think out the steps, the route, my hands, thumbs, and fingers will take in order to perform the rubbing of the eye successfully and without pain.
Typing, (currently referred to as ‘keyboarding’) a learned skill similar to playing piano (hence ‘keyboarding’), has become anxiety-provoking torture. For way over 40 years, I relied on this skill—without thought—while composing such documents as scholarly papers, creative mish-mashes, memoirs, and reports. And, having reached the typing speed and accuracy worthy of an Executive Administrative Assistant, I embraced a false, oh very false, sense of security. I believed that skills once-learned and heavily practiced achieve a sort of permanency.
However, my newly evolved fingers no longer strike the intended keys, indeed these alien claws play dirty tricks—creating such abominations as wrrd, or rwod for word. How do my fingers do such things? They race ahead, lag behind, or enter mortal combat with each other and my thumbs; they jump together on one key; they ignore the space bar; they skip over whole words.
These hands and fingers that I once trusted to steer a car, comb my hair, tie the string on my baby daughter’s bonnet, no longer can be relied upon to do my bidding. And, sometimes, just to be perverse, they ache.
These hands, fingers, thumbs, knuckles, and wrists don’t even look the same. They are spotted, wrinkled, and bent into odd shapes. I no longer recognize these hands, nor can anticipate their next movements.
Yet, these are small betrayals. Not cancerous or gangrenous—only mind-boggling—minor irritations reminding me that I am organic. So, when my hands trp me up [as they just did with trp not trip], I shall recall that all transformations may not be spiritual.
TRY IT: I wrote this essay in response to a one-word writing prompt: transmogrification. Try it, or chose your own word.
Award-winning author, playwright, poet, screenwriter and successful grant writer Kayt Peck sat down with Mary Rose Henssler recently for an interview. Kayt is the current Poet Laureate of Las Vegas, N.M., and will be the featured guest at the Literary Salon Visit with the Author, at Gallery 140, 140 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, N.M., on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at 4 p.m. In our interview, we discussed writing, among many subjects, and that part of the interview is excerpted below.
MRH: You were studying speech and communications. At what point did you start knowing that writing was your life? KP: Before I could write I would go into my dad’s office and make up stories on his typewriter. I was just pecking away, but the stories were in my head. Yeah, I always wanted to write.
MRH: And at what point did you start writing fiction? KP: Probably junior high. It sucked, but I wrote it. And my degree – I had a weird degree – it was called a functional degree, and I had a major in speech, and what amounted to a triple minor in journalism, psychology and education. That’s because they tried to push me into that. Actually, I finished everything except my student teaching to get education certified, but I didn’t want to teach. That’s something they – if you’re a woman at that school you had to go into education or medicine or something. I had no desire to be a teacher. I’ve been told I’m a good one.
MRH: What is your writing kryptonite? Something that protects you from just everything and lets you write? KP: That’s a good question. Writing kryptonite. Passion. I have pretty much–I have developed the craft. I can write about anything. I make a living largely writing grants, so I can write about anything. But when it comes to fiction, when it comes to plays or now screenplays, it has to be something I am passionate about. And if I truly have passion about something there’s no such thing as writer’s block.
MRH:Now, you believe in writer’s block, but you don’t get it? KP: I do sometimes, but it’s short lived. It’s when I’m tired. It’s the body saying ‘shut up.’ I do get it sometimes. Natalie Goldberg has some great exercises to get you past, you know, over the hump. I think it’s a story she wrote or my writing instructor in college may have told me this story about someone who was in a writing class and couldn’t write. Just couldn’t get past it, so the instructor said, “Okay. Just pick a street.” She did. “Pick a building.” She did. Couldn’t write. The instructor finally said, “I want you to go to that building. Go up ten bricks, three bricks over, and start writing about that brick.” And that broke it. Have you ever read my tagline on my email? ‘Writers are like magic wands. They can create anything.’ And you know, we really do. It’s not just on the page. Writers create everything when you come down to it, the things that happen in the world, the things that humanity creates, it has to start with words. Everything has to start with words. It has to start with communication. That’s why I was so fascinated by interpersonal communication.
MRH:When you were in the Navy, I know the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City had a tremendous affect on you. What other experiences with the Navy had a great affect on you, good or bad? KP: Probably the most important writing I have ever done in my whole career was when I was recalled to go to Strategic Command to help write the VIP documents when Admiral Childs was developing a plan for the stand down from the Cold War. So, I helped write the documents he used for key legislative committees to convince them to follow his plan.
MRH:You feel that was the most important writing you ever did. Do you feel that way about any of your fiction? Do you feel that your fiction has an impact on the people that read it? KP: I think so, yes. I think this latest book, especially. The fantasy series. I really need to get into a different market for that, because I think that series… You know, Harry Potter changed the world. I think everything I’ve written–sometimes it feels like I’m not writing alone so everything I’ve written there’s been a trigger. I don’t write just for fun. It’s fun to write, but there’s something. There’s a kernel. A truth I need to say, or an observation I need to say. I told you the story of why I decided I needed to write Broken. The Ladies Room, I had to do.
MRH:That was a very powerful book. KP: And you know, I couldn’t really tell the story of what it was like to start an organization in the Texas Panhandle, because nobody would have believed it. It was horrible. But I needed to get that flavor, that experience out to people. And do you know, I’ve done well selling that book out at the flea market, when I tell people what it’s about, that’s the one they want–straight people. And I’m amazed how supportive they are when I tell them what the book’s about. The fantasy trilogy? That was important to me, and it hasn’t hit where it’s supposed to yet. I probably needed a different publisher for that. When I write, I let the story drive the length and the pace. And even though I like fantasy, Tolkein was so verbose. The story’s good, but I enjoyed the movies more than the books. I’m waiting to see what happens with Chokecherry Jelly (screenplay). I entered it into two contests and I’m not entering it into any more until I see what it does. It costs money to enter screenplay contests. (Chokecherry Jelly won both contests.) (Someone) wants to produce it, but it’s a long ways from concept to production on a movie.
MRH: Unless you want to do it yourself. KP: There’s so much I want to accomplish, and picking and choosing, because I realized, you know, I’m not going to live that much longer. In the scheme of things, ten or even twenty years isn’t that long.
MRH: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? KP: It wouldn’t be my writing self; it would affect my writing self, but I would go back earlier. Because when I was a kid growing up, somehow I knew it wasn’t me that was screwed up. Well, I was screwed up, but I think I would go back–I waited until I was older to–I’ve written forever. I’ve got manuscripts even I forgot I had written. But it wasn’t until I got in my fifties where I started saying, “Yeah, let’s put it out there.”
MRH:So you wrote, but you didn’t send it out anywhere, until you were in your fifties? KP: I would do some, but I wasn’t real serious about it. I was serious about helping other people accomplish their dreams, because that was the subliminal message that I had, was that my talent wasn’t supposed to be used for me. So if I could, I would go back to even before pre-writing and tell child me, “It’s okay to be ambitious. It’s okay. You’ve got a gift. It’s okay.”
MRH:So that was a pretty powerful message that you were getting from the people around you. KP: Oh yeah. That I wasn’t supposed to use my talent for me. And it took me a long time to even recognize that’s what it was doing. I think that’s why I got into grants, because it was okay. I told myself at the time it was a great way to practice my writing skills and still make a living. Now, I look back at it, and if I had put it where I really wanted to, by now I’d be in clover.
MRH: What did you do with your first advance? KP: What advance?
MRH:Your publisher doesn’t give an advance. What did you do with the first check you got from your writing? KP: Put it back into the writing. Or into publishing. All of the stuff I make off my books I put into Dreamcatcher Books or I put it into the marketing. So I’m trying to think if I used it for anything else.
MRH:What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? KP: Getting a computer. That really opened things up.
MRH:You wrote your first books on a typewriter? KP: Mmmhmm. Speaking of investment, I tried to make an investment. When I was in my twenties, I thought okay, I want to be a writer, I want to do publishing, so what am I going to do? So I started a little magazine called The Coldwater Holdout. Which is apparently kept in a couple of museums in Oklahoma. Which is kind of fun. And my dad had bought, when I was a baby, a whole life policy which he turned over to me when I turned twenty-one, and I left it for a while and I thought, ‘You know what? I need some money to be able to do this magazine.’ So I cashed it in. Now, this is one of the ways–I should have divorced him then–so, I made the mistake of putting the money in the joint bank account. Kevin bought a motorcycle. Spent my magazine money on a motorcycle, so that was a short-lived–I think I did it for six months. It was so much fun. I’ve still got it somewhere. I ought to let you see it. The Coldwater Holdout was fun. I might have been able to stay in publishing. But you know, I don’t regret the newspapers I worked for, either.
MRH:What do you regret? KP: Not a damn thing.
Kayt Peck will be the Literary Salon’s featured guest on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at 4 p.m. at the Gallery 140, 140 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, N.M. Refreshments will be served. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing.
Article written by Mary Rose Henssler whose work includes playwriting, scriptwriting, poetry and prose. She also enjoys drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and being outdoors.
One would think so, but it’s surprising how many writers are inveterate procrastinators. Every bit of advice about writing boils down to putting one’s behind in a chair and banging away at your word processor, be it a computer or an old fashioned pencil.
Serious writers write
Traditionally published authors work as hard at getting an agent as they do at writing books
Serious writers write
Indie and traditionally published authors learn how to promote their own books with confidence
Serious writers write
Author platforms are crucial
Serious writers write
Authors read nearly as much as they write
Serious writers write
And don’t depend on family to edit your work, unless that is their profession and they are generally heartless when it comes to reviewing your article, or essay, or book. My ever-patient husband has been my biggest supporter and kindest critic (as in being no critic at all). He is not my editor. According to him everything I write is “fine.” Yikes. The worst word on the planet for a writer. “Fine.” A writer wants to be “thought provoking,” “hilarious,” “a thorn in someone’s backside,” “extraordinary,” any and all of the superlatives you can imagine. “Fine,” I didn’t think, quite cut it. And then I looked at synonyms for fine:
So I guess I’ll take “fine” from my husband, who really, when I think about it, is a discerning and highly intelligent man. He’s still not my editor.
Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to writers of varying levels of success. These wonderful interactions have taught me a lot about what it means to be a writer.
Write tight. Whether you are writing an advertisement or penning the Great American Novel, less is more. Good writing is often a matter of making the most of a few well-chosen words.
Do your homework. (Research). Writers have an obligation to their readers to be credible. Works of fiction with shaky plots and weak characters turn readers off. Nonfiction books with incorrect information turn readers off. Period. End of story.
Write. To be successful, writers must write. It sounds simple, but making time to write is difficult if you are not intentional about putting words on paper (or computer), which is why most authors have a schedule and stick with it come what may.
Be interesting. Create a compelling story with strong characters, drama, conflict, action and a satisfying conclusion.
Be creative. There are many ways to write about the same subject. Love. Hate. Death. Life. Fear. Happiness. Truth. Lies. You name it and it has been written about, and that will continue. How does your creativity and innovation bring new life to these concepts? That’s the story you want to tell.
Read.Yes. Read. Read a lot. Read different genres. Read nonfiction, poetry, history, fiction. Read. Read. Read. As famed author Stephen King said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
Next up: In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), the September 18 Las Vegas Literary Salon will feature two of the writers who will be published in Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poems. Ray John de Aragon and Sylvia Ramos Cruz will talk about their work, the craft of writing and their writing journeys. Read more here and register to attend. The event begins a 2 p.m. on Zoom.
NOTE: If you are interested in being on the Las Vegas Literary Salon planning team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re also interested in guest posts from writers about their writing journeys, the craft of writing, book reviews in any genre, posts about reading. If you have a guest post idea, let us know.
Coming in October: Las Vegas Poet Laureate Kayt Peck will be our featured author at an event full of surprises, which may include hot cider and spooky treats! Hopefully by then in person gatherings will be possible. Stay tuned. Either way, Kayt will be talking writing and poetry and publishing.
The Las Vegas Literary Salon (LVLS) announces the appearance of Deborah Blanche as Nina Otero-Warren in a Chautauqua program, Aug. 22, 4 p.m., via Zoom. This presentation is free, but registration is required. To register, sign up below to receive the Zoom link.
“Perhaps La Nina, Adelina Otero-Warren, is best remembered for her influential role in securing the passage of the women’s suffrage amendment by the New Mexico legislature,” says Blanche, a veteran Chautauquan who researched and wrote the narrative in addition to portraying Otero-Warren. The first Latina to run for the United States Congress, La Nina will soon be featured on a US coin in the American Women Quarters Program beginning in 2022.
Born in 1881 into two of the most influential and prosperous families of the Rio Abajo – the Baca-Lunas and the Chavez-Oteros, La Nina was educated in both Spanish and English receiving secondary and college training in St. Louis. Throughout her life she was an active figure in the politics, social work, education, and the society of New Mexico’s capitol city. Her literary accomplishments, captured in her book, Old Spain in Our Southwest, focus on family memories as well as ranch and hacienda life in early New Mexico Territory.
La Nina artfully lived a life of self-determination while walking the well-defined lines of her class and society. Her professional work and causes included bilingual and literacy education for the rural residents of Northern New Mexico, improved health and education for Pueblo peoples, and preservation of the arts, stories, and customs of her Hispanic heritage. “Brilliant, gracious and tough,” Blanche concludes. “She’s a real challenge to portray.”
The Chautauqua program format is one in which an historical person’s life is researched thoroughly; then presented to the public as a dramatization by the scholar/performer in costume and often with props. Blanche’s presentations tend to be like short plays with spaces allowed for the audience to interact informally in a question and answer dialogue. “It’s like a trip back in time for all of us,” she says.
Deborah Blanche has been creating one-woman shows as well as storytelling and Chautauqua programs since the mid-1970’s after studying original theatre in England. In addition, she has toured throughout the United States. In 1988 she received the YWCA’s Woman on the Move award for her contribution to the arts in New Mexico. She lives near Las Vegas, New Mexico, and her entire repertoire can be seen at www.palomitaproductions.org.
Thanks, Next Gen writers! Writing is a solitary endeavor and we never know the gift our words are to others until we share them. The Next Gen event on July 25, at Gallery 140, was well-attended by an appreciative audience whose support for young writers was evident. The seating limit was 35 and there were a few people standing, ergo, we had a standing-room-only crowd!
Thanks Maya Sena, Josephine Morales, Dominic Garcia, Christian Lopez, Viviana Rivera and Joshua Sandoval. You all did an excellent job and we at the Las Vegas Literary Salon look forward to working with you and encouraging you in your writing journey. We appreciate you taking time to share your work.
Thanks also, to those of you filled out an “I Want to Help” form. We will be getting in touch with you soon. And our deepest appreciation to those of you who donated.
Next Gen is the 14th presentation by the Las Vegas Literary Salon since launching in July 2020. Thanks to our fiscal sponsor the Las Vegas Arts Council, Las Vegas Community Foundation, and a Mustard Seed Grant from the First United Presbyterian Church, LVLS has shared the talents of more than 30 writers from the Las Vegas area! Previous events have been virtual, thanks to Zoom, a technology that has allowed us to take a dream concept to reality. We will return to Zoom for our next event, La Nina: The Story of Nina Otero-Warren. Details and registration form here.
We invite you to join us in celebrating the written word as a writer and a reader. The craft of writing is a skill set that goes beyond putting pen to page. It is immersing oneself in the art of creation and bringing your reader along for the ride.
Fill out the contact form below and let Las Vegas Literary Salon know how you would like to be involved as a writer, reader or volunteer.
Next Gen Writers of Las Vegas Sunday, July 25, 4 p.m. Live at Gallery 140 on Bridge Street
Las Vegas Literary Salon produced a Zoom open mic event a few months ago in which several high school students participated. Their talent encouraged the Lit Salon planning team to organize an event featuring young writers. We’re calling it, Next Gen.
The event will be held on July 25, at 4 p.m., live at Gallery 140 on Bridge Street. It is free and open to the public. Our list of participants includes Maya Sena, Josephine Morales, Dominic Garcia, Christian López, Viviana Rivera, and Joshua Sandoval. This is an open forum with each writer choosing whether to present poetry or prose or both. Each will have up to 10 minutes to present his or her work.
The mission of Las Vegas Literary Salon is to provide a safe space for writers, readers, and thinkers to meet, talk, and exchange ideas about writing and the written. Among our objectives is to support writers of all ages. Join us on July 25, p.m., to hear young writers read and talk about their work.
Preregistration is not required but helpful to event hostsfor purposes of planning and set up.
Dr. Korte was the featured guest on Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Visit with the Author, Sunday, May 23. Here are his comments about the experience, shared here with his permission. You may watch a video of the event here.
Dr. Korte: Personally, I am satisfied with the whole experience. When confronted with the format, I unlearned everything. To begin with, I couldn’t log on to Zoom. My daughter and backup arrived at the right time and logged me in. I am still trying to answer the question as to what to make of Baca’s poem. I found some stuff in the Nosotros book, which has a classification by type. Anyway, I spent 30 days developing a one-hour Powerpoint presentation (for the Salon). Overall, starting from the last presentation (on dreams and creativity), I was glad I heard about dreams. It freed me to rethink my paper on “transcendence.” I had been stuck for about six weeks, complete writer’s block. I remembered Marie Louise von Frantz’s book “On Dreams & Death: A Jungerian Interpretation.” The month of work on a slide show gave me the kind of review of my work I needed to complete the book. The road ahead is clear.
I am glad the interview went the way it did with an open discussion. Through development of the slide presentation, the work became clear to me. I know where I need to go and am satisfied as it has freed me up. I thank all who attended and for their reflection back. I has edified me in so many ways. Adelante! (forward march, for me). Many, many thanks.
Las Vegas Literary Salon is grateful for all the time writers and presenters put into their guest appearances. And, we deeply appreciate attendees who by their presence and participation make these events rich in content. As we look to in-person Salons, our goal will be to continue with original programming that will include readings by published authors, workshops, and round-table events on topics related to writing, publishing, and reading. Please follow this website to stay informed about planned Salons. Whether Zoom or in-person, Salon events will be held on the 4th Sunday of the month at 4 p.m., unless otherwise notified. Changes of time and venue will be advertised well in advance of events.
And, if you have a submission for Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poems, the deadline has been extended to July 1. So, put your pen to page or fingers to keyboard and get that gem written and sent in! Click on the Tapestry tab in the menu for submission guidelines.
We are extending the deadline for Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry to July 1, 2021. The target publication date is early to mid-November 2021. Submission Guidelines can be found by clicking TAPESTRY GUIDELINES in the menu.
To qualify for the publication, you must live – or have lived – in the topic area (Northeastern New Mexico). Submissions that reflect the area are preferred, but not required. There is much to celebrate – or comment on – about Northeastern New Mexico, a diverse area with a broad mosaic of cultures and lifestyles, so you will have lots of fodder for your writing muse. And, yes, speculative fiction, mystery, suspense, comic relief, ghost stories and any other genre you can imagine – and write in short-form – is admissible and encouraged. Essays and poetry are open to the writer’s imagination and creativity. Check out Mary Rose Henssler’s Quick Fixes When you Don’t Know What to Write, to get your creative juices flowing.
As compensation, writers will receive a copy of the published book.
Tapestry: Tales, Essays,Poetry is a fundraiser for Las Vegas Literary Salon. Income from sale of the book will go to the Las Vegas Arts Council (the LVLS fiscal sponsor), to be used for programming and expenses of LVLS.
We welcome all submissions. There is no reading fee. Please follow the submission guidelines to assure your work is considered for the publication.
Members of Las Vegas Literary Salon are eligible to participate in the call.
This is not a competition. We are looking for quality writing as a criterion for inclusion. We will select a small group of thoughtful readers to review for that…no prizes or other judgments will be necessary. And we will only announce the reader’s names if they choose to be recognized.
If you have questions, email email@example.com. This is for inquiry only. Do not send submissions to this email. Click the download button below to get the guidelines.
Deadline for submissions is July 1, 2021. We expect to have the book ready for Christmas sales and gift giving. It will be available locally and online. Pandemic permitting, there will be an in-person book talk and signing featuring as many authors as can make it.
Thanks to a First United Presbyterian Church Mustard Seed Grant, the initial printing and shipping costs will be covered. And thanks to Las Vegas Arts Council and its continued support.