Patti Writes: A Circle of Light

“Is it time yet?” I whisper loudly. ‘In a stage whisper,’ Nanna would say.

I am poised with the red table lamp, its cord dangling from the outlet between the two kitchen windows, in one hand, and my library book under my arm. In the small bedroom off the kitchen, Ma is crooning gently to Denise, the baby. Ronnie’s silence means he is staring intently at Ma’s lips. Denise babbles. Then a sigh, like at the end of a long hard day at the factory. And Ronnie whispers ‘good night, Mum.’

Soon after, Ma slowly backs out of the ‘kids’ room, silently closing the door to within the width of her hand.

I know not to breathe or the spell will be broken.

Then, I scramble through the open window onto the screened-in back porch, while Ma pours two juice-sized glasses of milk, then assembles our butter and saltine cracker sandwiches. I set the lamp on the box between two low-slung beach chairs. The cord is just long enough, actually, taut, and I switch on the light. My job done, I lie back, book on my lap, and watch the outlines of the houses on Marion Street melt away, and dots of lights appear in their windows. As darkness claims day, the lamp’s bulb creates a bright circle of light, an oasis, big enough to include us, our snacks, and books. I love this.

Balancing our goodies on Nanna’s old wooden tray, Ma enters the porch through the doorways—kitchen door to back-hall to porch door to porch. She transfers plates and glasses to the box and returns to the kitchen. In my mind, I see her stack the tray beside the toaster and begin the search for her book.  

I wait.

She returns.

We establish ourselves in our chairs—scootching around for comfort. It is hot summer in East Boston and sticky humid. “Not a breath of air,” Nanna’s voice says in my head. City sounds are lazy—a dog bark, a car horn, a kid’s laugh, the brief smack-thud of a moth trying to get through the screens.

My mother always claimed she was tricked into agreeing to move to this flat on the top floor of my grandfather’s three-story apartment building on busy Meridian Street. As she told and retold it, she and Daddy stood in the empty kitchen with its brass fittings and grey, double soapstone sinks, and Dad said, “Look Reta, a big back yard for the kids.”

“It was dusk,” she’d say to me. “No screens. Who could tell that our so- called big back yard was actually the neighbor’s?” Our flat had only this back porch, screening added later against the moths, overlooking the back yards of other houses.

 Our building had no back, side, or front yard. But we had this circle of light and reading, reading in the night on the back porch together.

This memory sustained me through entrance exams, essay tests, comprehensive exams, dissertation defense, and even conference papers as I adjusted the microphone and the reader’s circle of light on the podium.


Read here to learn more about Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize writing contest. Cash prizes of $300 each to the top three submissions and an opportunity to be included in the contest’s short story anthology of qualifying entries. Download Submission Guidelines here. Short Story Contest submission deadline changed to July 1.

Patti Writes

Here we are. Poetry Month 2022.

This is a poem I “keypunched” when I worked as a keypunch operator at Harbor Service Bureau, Wilmington, CA; circa 1968. Using simple number coding, I punched cargo data from a ship’s manifest into the keypunch cards.The punched cards were then “verified” by another keypunch operator by re-entering the data into the cards I had punched. Once verified, the cards were fed into the computer, which filled an 8 by 4 foot “Computer Room” and ultimately created a detailed cargo print-out for unloading the cargo. 

Clearly, I felt as though the keypunch machine was in charge of my life. When all six of us were keypunching, it was very noisy. Also clearly, any subject can be fodder for poetry.


Seeking Short Story Submissions

The Las Vegas Literary Salon announces a call for submissions to the Elmer Schooley Short Story Contest, with support from its fiscal sponsor organization, the Las Vegas (NM) Arts Council, and made possible by the generous donation from Lorenzo Martinez of four Elmer Schooley prints.

One of the four prints was selected to serve as the inspirational launch point for participating writers, shown at left. Qualifying submissions and prize-winning stories will be those which best reflect and reveal the hidden tales behind the image.

The deadline to receive entries is midnight, July 1, 2022. Professional and amateur writers of all backgrounds and ages are welcome to submit their works of 2,000 words or less. The three cash prize winners and all qualifying entries will be included in an Anthology, to be published by the Las Vegas Literary Salon later this year, and each will receive a free copy of the book.

In support of the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s fundraising efforts, the Schooley prints will be on display and available for purchase during the month of June at the Las Vegas Arts Council Gallery 140, 140 Bridge St. in Las Vegas, NM, along with works contributed by other artists in the local area in support of nonprofit organizations. For more information on the gallery show, contact Susie Tsyitee at lvac@lasvegasartscouncil.org, or 505-603-9543.

Find full submission guidelines for the Elmer Schooley Short Story Contest at: https://lvnmlitsalon.org/call-for-submissions/

Email questions to lvliterarysalon@gmail.com.

The Las Vegas Literary Salon is an organization fiscally sponsored by the Las Vegas Arts Council. Its mission – in part – is to present, preserve, publish, and promote writers and their works.

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THE ART OF WRITING SHORT STORIES

Image

As the Las Vegas Literary Salon gears up for its Elmer Schooley Short Story contest with a 2,000 word count limit, we felt this would be a good time to remind writers of some of the conventions common to writing shorter pieces of prose. Remember, the story you submit for the contest must be based on the Elmer Schooley print shown here.

  1. Create a character who wants something and another character who wants the same thing, or who has reason to oppose the main character’s attempts to get what they want. For fiction this short, there will not be room to develop more than three characters.
  2. Bring the conflict to light as close to the beginning of the story as possible. Make the reader want to read on to find out what happens next.
  3. Consider point of view: who will be telling this story? Will it be told in the first, second or third person?
  4. Choose a place that has significance for you. Close your eyes and pretend you’re walking toward it. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch? Awaken all of your senses to draw the reader into this adventure with you. If you are using an entirely fictional location, free write to figure out the sensory details of that place.
  5. Story is a catalogue of events. (The man planted a garden. He died there.) Plot is a listing of events with causality. (The man planted a garden. He died there when an elk jumped the garden fence and trampled him.)
  6. Make your characters real. Address their internal and external conflicts. Use physical description, speech, and action to make the characters relatable.
  7. What is the subject of your story?
  8. What is the theme?
  9. How does it end? It’s okay to surprise the reader, as long as the ending makes sense within the context of the story. I recently read the top three winning entries in a short short story contest. The contest required a maximum length of 1,000 words. One writer told the story in backwards order. Another writer described what the main character was like before The Thing That Happened, and then described what the main character was like after The Thing That Happened. She never told the reader what it was that happened. Never gave any detail about it at all. But because of the way she described the actions and feelings and even the clothing the main character wore, the reader knows, instinctively, what happened. The third story had a more conventional structure. All of the entries were well under the 1,000 word limit.
  10. Write with wild abandon, and then when you rewrite, write tight. With limited word count, it’s necessary to make every word work.

The above list is not meant as a road map to writing a short story, but merely as a reminder to include these basic elements that will enhance the reader’s enjoyment and understanding of the story you tell.

For additional writing advice, check out this link to entertaining words of wisdom on writing short stories from Kurt Vonnegut:

https://promote.irevuo.net/2022/01/07/kurt-vonneguts-8-rules-for-writing-a-short-story-2/


Click on Elmer Schooley Short Story for more information about the contest.
Deadline for submissions: July 1, 2022


Patti Writes

In thinking about blogging and, thus, about sharing thoughts and ideas, I offer this simple advice to writers and readers:

“What I ask from a book is what I want to write: I book I’d like to read myself.” – James Hillman, The Force of Character and the Later Life


Read here to learn more about Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize writing contest. Cash prizes to the top three submissions and an opportunity to be included in the contest’s short story anthology of qualifying entries. Download Submission Guidelines here.

THANKS TO THESE GENEROUS DONORS WHO HELP SUPPORT LAS VEGAS LITERARY SALON

The Las Vegas Literary Salon Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize fund-raising effort is supported by donations from educator, author and artist Ray John de Aragon, and Rosa Maria Calles, artist, playwright, and folklore dramatist. Among the offerings are signed posters of paintings by de Aragon and Calles depicting cultural icons Gorras Blancas and Los Penitentes, and several of de Aragon’s books, most with cover illustrations by Calles. Ray John is a recognized expert on the Spanish colonial arts, traditions, heritage, and folklore.

The 19 x 25 signed posters sell for $50 each; the books are available at prices ranging from $16.95 to $24.95. The books (listed below) are a mix of fiction and nonfiction.

• Images of America: Lincoln – Arcadia Publishing, $21.99
• The Legend of La Llorona – Sunstone Press, (Illustration, Rosa Maria Calles) $16.95
• Recollection of the life of the Priest, Don Antonio Jose Martinez, by Pedro Sanchez, (Original Spanish text translated by Ray John de Aragon – Illustration, Rosa Maria Calles) $16.95
• New Mexico in the Mexican-American War – The History Press, $21.99• The Penitentes of Hew Mexico, Hermanos de la Luz/Brothers of the Light – Sunstone Press, (Illustration by Rosa Maria Calles)$24.95
• Hermanos de la Luz – Brothers of the Light, Heartsfire Books, (Illustration, Ray John de Aragon)$16.95
• Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy, Sunstone Press, (Illustration, Rosa Maria Calles) $18.95

To purchase any of these items, contact lvliterarysalon@gmail.com, or contact the Las Vegas Arts Council, Gallery 140 (140 Bridge Street), Las Vegas, N.M.

Read more on the two artists who are donating their work to support Las Vegas Literary Salon and the Las Vegas Arts Council.

From PeoplePill: “Rosa Maria Calles, artistic director for Matraka Inc. wrote and produced the thrilling play Cuento de La Llorona…The play … attracted rave reviews from critics throughout New Mexico…the story is told in the form of a spectacular stage play with music, song, dialogue, and dance that captures the very essence of Spanish Colonial traditions, heritage, culture, and history in the Southwest.” From Latinos In the Industry, October 2004, a publication of the “National Association of Latino Independent Producers.” Read more of Calles’ bio at this link https://peoplepill.com/people/rosa-maria-calles

From PeoplePill: “Ray John de Aragón was born in Las Vegas, N.M. It is generally agreed that the most significant biographical link between de Aragón and his work is this fact of his birth and growth to maturity in his native New Mexico. Here is the source of his knowledge and love of his Hispanic culture and traditions, his biological view of life, and many of his characters, whether true life heroes such as Padre Antonio Jose Martinez, who is the subject in many of his writings, or the legendary La Llorona, who is the wailing female ghost of Hispanic folklore.” (Jim Sagel, Ray John de Aragón in Profile) Read more about de Aragon at this link https://peoplepill.com/people/ray-john-de-aragon

Our deepest appreciation to husband-and-wife creative team, Ray John and Rosa Maria.


Please make checks payable to Las Vegas Arts Council with Lit Salon in the memo line. Click here for more information about the Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize.

SEEKING SHORT STORY ENTRIES

WHAT DOES THIS ELMER SCHOOLEY PRINT CONJURE UP IN YOUR WRITER’S MIND?

If you enjoy writing short stories, this is for you. The Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the Las Vegas Literary Salon, made possible by the generous donation from Lorenzo Martinez of four Elmer Schooley prints. The print seen here has been chosen by the Las Vegas Literary Salon to be the subject of short story entries. We’re looking for good writing and creative panache!

Image

What does this image conjure in your mind? Write that in a short story of 2,000 words or less and submit. Three cash prizes will be awarded. Prize-winning stories and qualifying submissions will be those that best reflect the hidden stories behind the image. Qualifying submissions among non-winners will be included in an Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize Anthology along with the top three winners. Authors included in the anthology will receive one free copy of the book. Click on Call for Submissions in the menu to download the Submission Guidelines.

Three of the four prints by this well-known artist will be available for sale as part of a fundraising initiative for Las Vegas Literary Salon. One has already sold for $2,000. The buyer wishes to remain anonymous. For details about the available prints, contact lvliterarysalon@gmail.com.

Elmer “Skinny” Schooley (February 20, 1916 – April 25, 2007) was an American painter and printmaker. He received a BFA from the University of Colorado, and an MA at the State University of Iowa. Schooley was a Professor of Art and Head of the Department of Arts and Crafts, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, New Mexico. His works are included in collections at the Library of Congress, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, among others.

The image above and the two below are available for purchase. The items are valued from $1,500 to $2,500. Funds raised from sale of the items will go to support Las Vegas Literary Salon projects, including the Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize and publication of an anthology of qualifying entries. A portion also goes to our fiscal sponsor, the Las Vegas Arts Council to support its ongoing efforts to showcase and promote art in all its forms.

RESOURCES AND MORE

Julie Sola Shares Her Experience:

Julie explains how she created this layered print.

Julie Sola’s insight and experience gave Word Merchandising event attendees food for thought and solid leads to outlets that can help writers and artists get their work before new eyes and into viable marketplaces. See her resource list below.

PRINT ON DEMAND SOURCES

MERCHANDISE NOTE: The profit margin for you on all these print-on-demand sources are low, but you are not out any initial cash outlay, nor do you have to store boxes of merchandise.
This is a great way to test your designs. You can always go the traditional route where you find a local printer that can handle your printing needs, like a silk screener. I do not have local sources at this time.

SOCIETY 6 society6.com
No upfront cost, artist receives 10% of each sale. You upload your images and choose what items you want to print on. You will have an option to integrate an online store like Etsy or use their storefront. They handle everything from printing to shipping, and their quality is good. This is a great option if you are wanting to sell online.

GOOTEN gooten.com
You upload your artwork, you pay per item, price goes down the more items you order. You can order the items to sell yourself or use their store front. You pay upfront for this service, but get a better discount.

VISTA PRINT vistaprint.com
This is a great inexpensive way to get postcards, calendars, flyers etc. They do print T-shirt’s and mugs as well. I have used them for years for my postcards. They have different levels of pricing depending on quality of paper and other factors. Great option for selling your own work in your shop.

PRINTFUL printful.com
I have not used them but have heard great things about them; they work with local printers in your area.

BOOKS-SELF PUBLISHING

LULU lulu.com
This is a great source to see your poetry or stories in print. You can print one book or as many as you like, the price goes down the more you order. They have many cover, binding and paper options. There are a lot of self publishing print on demand places like Blurb, I have only used Lulu and have been very happy with them.

FABRIC PRINTING
SPOONFLOWER spoonflower.com
This is a great print on demand fabric source, they have other products like wallpaper. The quality of their printing is great; I have used them for many years. They do not make finished products, this is yardage only. That being said they have a sister company that will sew items for you, not sure of the pricing. Designers get 10% off their orders. They have great sales, which are good when you want to buy a lot of fabric to make your items to sell; you will make a larger profit. You can sell your designs on the site where you will earn spoondollars which you can apply to your fabric purchases.

NOTE: YOU WILL NEED BASIC COMPUTER SKILLS IN PHOTOSHOP TO BE ABLE TO FORMAT YOUR DESIGNS. IMAGES SHOULD BE SCANNED FOR THE BEST IMAGES TO PRINT.  I HAD A STUDENT HELP ME AT FIRST BECAUSE I AM DEFINITELY NOT PROLIFIC ON THE COMPUTER!

Julie says to come by Fat Crow Print Studio and Mercantile anytime. She enjoys talking about the creative process in all it’s forms.


PHOTO: Robert Henssler

LAS VEGAS LITERARY SALON NEWS AND NOTES

CALL FOR READER/JUDGE ELMER SCHOOLEY SHORT STORY PRIZE

The Las Vegas Literary Salon is looking for a reader/judge for the Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize writing contest, which is based on a print Schooley created in his student years. The deadline for entries is June 1, 2022. Entries will have a maximum word count of 2,000. Reading will take place as entries arrive. An honorarium will be offered. Contact lvliterarysalon@gmail.com if you are interested. LVLS will collaborate with reader/judge on a suitable judging rubric.

Elmer “Skinny” Schooley (February 20, 1916 – April 25, 2007) was an American painter and printmaker. He received a BFA from the University of Colorado, and an MA at the State University of Iowa. Schooley was a Professor of Art and Head of the Department of Arts and Crafts, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, New Mexico. His works are included in collections at the Library of Congress, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, among others.

WHAT DOES THE SCHOOLEY PRINT SHOWN ABOVE CONJURE UP IN YOUR WRITER’S MIND?

The Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the Las Vegas Literary Salon, made possible by the generous donation from Lorenzo Martinez of five Elmer Schooley prints. The print above has been chosen by the Las Vegas Literary Salon to be the subject of short story entries. We’re looking for good writing and creative panache!

What does this image conjure in your mind? Write that in a short story of 2,000 words or less and submit. Three cash prizes will be awarded. Prize-winning stories and qualifying submissions will be those that best reflect the hidden stories behind the image. Qualifying submissions among non-winners will be included in an Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize Anthology along with the top three winners. Authors included in the anthology will receive one free copy of the book. Click on Call for Submissions in the menu to download the Submission Guidelines. The prints will be available for sale as part of a fundraising initiative for Las Vegas Literary Salon.

This fund-raising effort is future supported by donations from educator, author and artist Ray John de Aragon, and Rosa Maria Calles, artist and folklore dramatist. More about them on the Las Vegas Literary Salon website soon. Among the offerings are signed posters of paintings by de Aragon and Calles depicting cultural icons Gorras Blancas and Los Penitentes, and several of de Aragon’s books. He is a recognized expert on the Spanish colonial arts, traditions, heritage, and folklore.

COMING IN MARCH: NEXT GEN RETURNS

These students of West Las Vegas High School teacher Anthony Lopez participated in the Salon’s first open mic event and then made a solo act return as presenters for the Next Gen event a couple of months later. Their poetry is fresh, original, thoughtful, and creative. They’re coming back with new material and new participants. Shown in this photo are Maya Sena, Christian Lopez, Josephine Morales, Dominic Garcia,
Viviana Rivera and Joshua Sandoval. We are expecting twenty presenters this go-around.


UPCOMING EVENTS
Scheduled 4th Sunday of every month at 4 p.m.
Venues to be determined
, times subject to change

• March – Next Gen poetry reading featuring high school students
• April – Poetry Open Mic (Working collaboration with NMHU student Aman WInkle)
• May – Featured Author Event TBA
• June – Book Fair sale of books with a focus on LOCAL AUTHORS
• July – Writing Historical Fiction, Patti Romero
• August – Featured Author Event TBA
• September – Hispanic Heritage Month (If you are interested in being a presenter, contact lvliterarysalon@gmail.com)
• October – “Readers Theater” Featured Authors – Patti Romero and Sharon Vander Meer
• November – Open Mic Essays and Poetry: Being Thankful
• December – Book Launch (This assumes we will receive sufficient qualifying short stories for the Schooley writing contest to create a book.)

THANKS TO OUR FISCAL SPONSOR AND BEST CHEERLEADER – LAS VEGAS ARTS COUNCIL

Patti Writes

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81AyHIYo6sL.jpg

“Why do I read?
by Gary Paulsen

I just can’t help myself.
I read to learn and to grow, to laugh
and to be motivated.
I read to understand things I’ve never
been exposed to.
I read when I’m crabby, when I’ve just
said monumentally dumb things to the
people I love.
I read for strength to help me when I
feel broken, discouraged, and afraid.
I read when I’m angry at the whole
world.
I read when everything is going right.
I read to find hope.
I read because I’m made up not just of
skin and bones, of sights, feelings,
and a deep need for chocolate, but I’m
also made up of words.
Words describe my thoughts and what’s
hidden in my heart.
Words are alive–when I’ve found a
story that I love, I read it again and
again, like playing a favorite song
over and over.
Reading isn’t passive–I enter the
story with the characters, breathe
their air, feel their frustrations,
scream at them to stop when they’re
about to do something stupid, cry with
them, laugh with them.
Reading for me, is spending time with a
friend.
A book is a friend.
You can never have too many.

Gary James Paulsen (May 17, 1939 – October 13, 2021) was an American writer of children’s and young adult fiction, best known for coming-of-age stories about the wilderness. He was the author of more than 200 books and wrote more than 200 magazine articles and short stories, and several plays, all primarily for teenagers. He won the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 1997 for his lifetime contribution in writing for teens. (Source Wikipedia)