Patti Writes

APRIL IS FOR WORD LOVERS

The Las Vegas Literary Salon joins the rest of the country in celebrating the joy of poetry. The Academy of American Poets – https://poets.org/national-poetry-month – designated April as National Poetry Month recognizing poetry in all its forms and styles from rhymed verse, to free form, experimental, cowboy and cowgirl poetry, prose-poetry, and on and on.

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Poetry provides us all – even those of us who do not think of ourselves as poets – with the means to express strong feelings through imagery, rhythm, and sometimes a special, concentrated language, a language we do not use in our daily communications. People who write poems write from the heart.

When my daughter was born, my mother — not a writer or a poet and not a high school graduate — wrote:

Rarest of children, child of my child
Angel on earth with a heavenly smile
Cherub to cherish although far apart
Here or there you are still in my heart
Eternally I’ll love you never forget
Love is the answer give and you’ll get.

Poetry gave my mother the means to express her deep joy at the granddaughter born a thousand miles away. 

I think you’ll agree we can all benefit from spending time with poems. So please – forget politics and pandemics – join us for an hour of non-stop poems.

THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2021, 6:00 – 7:00 PM via ZOOM
for THE FIRST ANNUAL Las Vegas Literary Salon
Open Mic(rophone)Poetry Event

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4635856164

DROP in and –
• READ a poem or three – your own work and/or your favorite poet’s,
• HANG OUT quietly and listen,
• SEND COMMENTS (not required),

Please join us.


Call for Submissions – Tapestry: Tales, Essay, Poetry.
Find out more here. Deadline for submissions, June 1, 2021


Carmen Baca – Guest Post

Thanks to Carmen Baca, for allowing LVLS to share her publishing experience and wisdom. Go to this link to learn more about Carmen’s published books and other writing.

Want to know how the publishing process works?

There are different methods, but this is the short version of my experience to give you an idea.

A novel inspired by a storied religious practice.

I always thought being a writer is a solitary endeavor. I write for 4-5 hours, 4-5 days a week, bringing worlds and characters and their stories to life. If I’m writing a short story, essay, or article, the writing sessions take anywhere from 2 hours to 3-4 days. I edit the piece to the best of my ability and submit to publishers of online literary magazines and anthologies directly. No one else sees my short works before those editors and publishers.

When I write books, it’s a solitary process for the two months it takes to get 68K to 78K words written to my satisfaction. Then comes the editing, going through the manuscript 5 times looking for specific issues, creating the glossary, making sure the bibliography’s accurate. That’s when the solitary situation changes.

Margaret Johnson, Mercedes Romero, and other volunteer beta and proofreaders get the manuscript next; they find the typos and the places I used the wrong words and sometimes the details in the wrong places, my most common errors. While they are doing their thing, I’m creating my cover art and the blurb which goes on the back of the book. At this point, I send the cover art to my cover artist and the blurb to Margaret and my publisher; they always make it better. That’s also when I work on the other pages: the dedication, acknowledgments, author’s note (if needed). Once Margaret, Mercedes, and the proofreaders finish, about a month later, I revise the manuscript with their corrections/recommendations. By that time, the cover is also ready. (Note: many publishers like my 1st one for El Hermano have their own cover artists. The folk artist worked with my input to create that cover.)

The manuscript goes to my publisher then, and he puts it in his queue where it waits in line for him to publish those works ahead of mine. The difference, which arises with a self-published book, is that instead of sending the book to a publisher, I upload the book and the front and back covers into a self-publishing site. I’ve only done that once, and the formatting took me four days. That book has no page numbers since I couldn’t figure out how to add them. Some self-published authors hire formatters to format their books, in addition to hiring their editor and cover artist.

In the meantime, I write up a press release about the book, send it to potential ARC (advance review copy) readers for editorial reviews. Those people agree to read the manuscript. Some of them write endorsements for the book, and all of them write their reviews to post on the day the book releases. The more reviews a book gets on Amazon, the more publicity Amazon gives it.

So, by the time the book reaches readers’ hands, at least ten other people have had their hands in assuring the book is as good as it can be. What begins as a solitary process turns into an assembly line of valuable people who all work toward one goal: publishing a book.

Making a book a success is something readers can help us do: write honest reviews on Amazon as a thank you to the author for those hours of entertainment and ask local bookstores to sell our books.

Carmen Baca, author
http://plu.us/cbacacreation


NEWS NOTES: Guest posts about writing and publishing are welcome. Send your query to lvliterarysalon@gmail.com. Our thanks to Carmen. Her words are motivating and inspiring. We invite writers and readers to engage with Las Vegas Literary Salon by attending our monthly Salons on the 4th Sunday, from 4-5 p.m. Our Sunday, March 28 Visit with author and satirist Jim Terr goes live at 4 p.m.

Las Vegas Literary Salon is seeking submissions for a collection entitled: Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry. The target publication date is early to mid-November 2021. Submission Guidelines can be found by clicking TAPESTRY GUIDELINES in the menu above.

Patti Writes

PHOTO: DAVID PASCALE

Hello and welcome to Patti’s blog – all things [except for the occasional digression] books, reading, writing… Yes, I am one of the founding members of the Las Vegas Literary Salon (LVLS). One – maybe distant – day, we will bring Salon activities, i.e., book fair, salon talks (with refreshments) to the streets, or at least one of our streets, or maybe a store front… And, coming soon, the LVLS publication: Northeastern New Mexico Tapestry: Poetry, Essays, Tales. See Call for Submissions here. In the mean time, be sure to join us for Visits with the Author via Zoom, each fourth Sunday at 4 p.m.

Today’s blog features a sampling (Tiger’s Pics) of books by and for Las Vegans. Yes, Tiger was born and abandoned somewhere on the outskirts of town.

Some books are about Las Vegas, some are not. Troll through and find your pic. Many are available locally.

Paper Trail, 158 Bridge St., (505) 454-1337; Books of the Southwest, 247 Plaza, 505 469-0517; Brotique 505, 707 Douglas Ave, www. Brotique505.com.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Douglas Adams.
Patti

QUICK FIXES WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE

You have some time. Maybe you have some time at the same hour and in the same place every day. Most days, you write eagerly and productively. You make progress on your novel or your collection of short stories, or your non-fiction history of the Sangre de Christo mountains.

But then one day you have the time. You have the space. You have the enthusiasm. But you don’t have any idea what you want to put down on the page. Often, this has roots in self doubt. 

Nobody wants to read this. I suck at this. Who am I to try this?

The first thing to do is tell yourself it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because this is a first draft, and you aren’t going to show it to anyone. Now that that’s out of the way, remind yourself that the most important thing is to get the story down on paper before you lose it. That is, if you have a story. 

If you  have a story, and you don’t know where to go next, try free writing. Do this with a paper and pen and the determination not to cross out or read until you’re done with the exercise. Start with the last sentence you wrote in your story and write for 30 minutes without stopping. At some point you may need to write “Keep the hand moving” a couple of time before your mind kicks in. As the author and creative writing teacher Natalie Goldberg advises: “Follow your mind.” Don’t try to stay on track (what you think is the track) just write. Something good will come out of it. Maybe something small, maybe something important. It doesn’t matter.

And if you don’t  have a story, pick a color, or an object, and write about that, until something clicks in your mind and you are writing about a memory, or a dream, or a wish you had as a child, anything that resonates with you and continue with that until you have exhausted it. These seemingly random thoughts will have little nuggets of truth that you can work with.

Maybe you will get a poem, or the start of one. Maybe you will get a flawed character that you can build a seven novel series on.

One of my favorite exercises when I’m starting a new story or poem or scene for a play is to go to the thesaurus or the dictionary, open it at random with my eyes closed and put my finger on the page. I do this three times (three different pages). Jot down each word in turn, then look at each word. If you’re not sure of the meaning, look it up. Now use the meanings of those three words in your poem or short story WITHOUT EVER USING THE WORDS. Somehow, this gives your mind room to play and make some surprising connections that will enrich your work.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. This next one came from Alice Whitfield, my voiceover coach one day when she felt that the energy in the class was not as creative as she would like. Evidently we were all giving lackluster performances on our recordings. She told us all to close our eyes and picture a corner in our kitchen at home. We were to recall every single item in that corner, from floor to ceiling, to pick up any small objects, to note their color, and weight in our minds. We were to think of a scent from the kitchen, maybe gingerbread, or savory stuffing, or something else pungent that we enjoyed. When she told us to open our eyes, and take our turns recording for a second time, every single performance had improved. And I put it into my writing toolkit. 

When the current plague is over and we can return to activities like sitting with our notebooks and a cup of tea or coffee at Travelers or Charlies or El Sombrero, listen to the conversations around you. Not obviously, of course, try to look like you are writing something of your own, not recording snippets of conversation. I once heard a woman say to a man that stopped by her table, “Is your dad still in the graveyard?” Something like that can lead to any number of stories.

Is the dad a gravedigger? A landscaper? A vampire that walks by night?

Another trick you can use is to have some jars filled with folded scraps of paper. One jar could have jobs – mechanic, neurosurgeon, substitute teacher, detective, etc. Another could have places – small town, big city, mesas, mountains, Alaska fishing village, artist’s colony, desert, any place you can think of, especially if you have been there, or would like to research it. Then a jar with situations – kidnapping, star crossed lovers, changing places with someone, building a house on swampland. Pull two slips out of the first jar for your protagonist and antagonist. Then a slip of paper for the place. Then one for the situation. And suddenly you have characters in a situation in a place. And it’s a start.

Now use these tips, or your preferred starting point, and write something (poetry, essay, or fiction) for Tapestry, the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s upcoming collection. The deadline for submission is June 1, so start writing. Click on the TAPESTRY GUIDELINES tab in the menu to get the submission guidelines and read the Call for Submissions here.

GET LIT WITH LAS VEGAS LITERARY SALON

On Sunday, Feb. 28, 4-5 p.m., bring your topic and let’s talk writing. Get Lit with Las Vegas Literary Salon is an open forum on the topics of writing and publishing. Scheduled participants include Bob and Mary Rose Henssler talking about creativity, inspiration, and poetry, Susie Tysitee reflecting on writing as an art form, and Sharon Vander Meer presenting the pros and cons of self-publishing. And whatever topic you would like to add to the mix.

The Lit Salon development team will also put out a call for submissions for A Northeastern New Mexico Tapestry: Poetry, Essays, Tales, a publication featuring area writers and their poetry, short fiction and essays on the topic of Northeastern New Mexico with a focus on Las Vegas.

Bob Henssler is an artist, musician and photographer, in addition to writing poetry. Bob will read some of his work and discuss the seeds of inspiration, where they come from and how they sprout. His work reflects multiple artistic endeavors. His poetry is taken from personal experience and observation. “I may view a photo or painting and react by writing out what I see and feel. My fears from the past well up and need to be verbalized and take the form of a poem. I don’t adhere to any measured metric or rhyme as life doesn’t come to us in form noted out on a staff.” 

Mary Rose Henssler is equally multi-talented. She resides in San Miguel County, New Mexico with Bob, two dogs and a cat. “I fill my time with reading and writing: poetry, plays, comedy sketches, memoir, short stories and novels.” She also enjoys block printing, drawing, and watercolor painting, acting with the Nat Gold players, and gardening. Her talk is entitled, Quick fixes when you’re not sure what to write. Mary Rose is on the planning team for Las Vegas Literary Salon.

Susie Tsyitee is the executive director of the Las Vegas Arts Council, and was the creative prod that got LVLS from concept to reality. LVLS early efforts to organize its first event came to a halt when Covid descended. Susie, always a creative thinker, saw the possibilities to launch LVLS offered through Zoom, a digital tool provided through a grant from Las Vegas Community Foundation. And the rest – as they say – is history. Susie will present on the topic, “Writing as an art form.”

Sharon Vander Meer, a co-organizer of LVLS with Patti Romero, is a published indie author and freelance writer whose work appears periodically in the Las Vegas Optic. Her books and other writing are featured on her website www.vandermeerbooks.com. Sharon will talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing. She has published five novels and two chapbooks of poetry.

Sharon will also talk about the collection of poetry, short fiction, and essays to be published in early November. The guidelines will be available upon request. The working title is A Northeastern New Mexico Tapestry: Poetry, Essays, Tales.

SAVE THE DATE: SUNDAY, FEB. 28, 4-5 PM
Register below to receive your Zoom link to Get Lit With Las Vegas Literary Salon.

Welcome

Welcome to the newly established Las Vegas (NM) Literary Salon (LVLS).

Not to be confused with any salons in the “other Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Literary Salon (LVLS) is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Great Rocky Mountains and is devoted to writers, readers, and thinkers of the Greater Las Vegas area. As part of its mission, LVLS supports the literary arts by presenting events like A Visit with the Author in which area writers are interviewed and read from their works via Zoom; and The Writers’ Roundtable, a Zoom production in which a variety of writers gave readings of their work. In the future, LVLS plans to hold book fairs, establish reading clubs and talk groups, provide workshops on writing, editing, publishing, and self-publishing.    

Edwina Romero, A Founding Member

Born and bred in East Boston, Massachusetts, I have been making stories, reading, or writing for more years than I want to count. Once I learned how to read, in the evenings when the younger ones were asleep, my mother dragged a lamp out through the open kitchen window to our third floor, screened-in back porch where we read and ate Saltine-cracker-and-butter sandwiches in the circle of light. Later, when babysitting my younger sister & brothers, I created stories to entertain them. They always joined in and made them better, as did my daughter many years later. Creating may be a communal activity.   

I’ve read books on subway trains, in waiting rooms and cafes, in bed, in cars, buses, and airplanes. I’ve read aloud to my daughter, my classes, friends, fellow writers, siblings, my cat, a few audiences, and to nobody at all. I’ve written letters, emails, a Ph. D. dissertation on writing, poems, academic papers, non-fiction, and fiction. With everything I wrote and everything I read, I learned something about reading and writing, myself, human beings and other animals, and the universe in which we all live.

I hope that sharing my experiences with others will help encourage more and more reading, writing, and pondering.    

Writings
Footlights in the Foothills, Amateur Theatre of Las Vegas and Fort Union, New Mexico, 1871-1899;
Cowboy Reunions of Las Vegas, New Mexico;
Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union;
Las Vegas, New Mexico, 1835-1935.

Favorite Books
Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
A Gentleman of Moscow by Amor Towles
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Book of Speculation Erika Swyler

Where Do Books Come From?

I read before I started school.

No one set out consciously to teach me, nor did I entertain a plan to learn. Among my earliest memories,  (at about three years old) is that every night, my mother would gather me up, damp and sleepy from my bath, cozy in flannel footie pajamas, and wrap me in a blanket. We would settle in the worn wooden rocker next to the black franklin stove (which sometimes overheated and the lid would pop up with a loud bang. I kept a wary eye on that stove.) And then she would say the magic words, “Let’s read a story,” and she would open the cover of a Little Golden Book, and begin. I remember The Little Engine That CouldThe Three Naughty KittensPeter Cottontail, and so many more filled with brightly colored pictures and big printed words. 

Sometimes my father read to me from the Bible, and I loved the rhythm of the words, the thunder of the Biblical names, and the image of the animals going to the ark, two by two.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have my own library card. My best friend and I would roller skate to the library and pick out books, then return to the shelter of her front porch to spend the day reading. But no one ever thought to tell me where books come from, as they taught me so many other things. I knew the Bible said God made the world, so it was a natural progression for me that God made books. I didn’t even think about it.

The Christmas I turned seven a neighbor gave me a copy of Black Beauty. I read it straight through and then read it again. Then I ran to find my mother, to tell her about this wonderful horse, to urge her to read the story for herself. To beg for a horse of my own.

Her primary interest being to distract me from the notion of horse ownership, my mother quickly suggested that I go to the library, and see if the author had written any other books. An author? A suspicion grew. A light dawned.

Perhaps books were not organic things like peaches on a tree, or little miracles shelved by angels while the librarian slept. 

“Where do the books at the library come from?” I asked.

“People write them,” came the answer.

People write them. What an amazing idea. A storybook held so much magic for me, transporting me away in time and space that my mother had a hard time calling me out of the book to eat dinner.

“Of course, people write books. Who did you think wrote them?”

God, of course.

From that simple revelation came an omnivorous appetite for the written word. If people wrote books, I could learn to write them, too. At some point thereafter I fell prey to ambition: I wanted to read every book ever written. By the time I was nine, the librarian told my mother I had read all of the books in the children’s section of the library, and she allowed me to check out some of the adult books. 

Between the ages of ten and eighteen, I read Alexander Dumas, Mark Twain, most of Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Austen, popular novels, political novels, all the plays by George Bernard Shaw, Bradbury, Asimov, Kafka, Dos Passos, Woolfe, the Brontes, and more, including a translation of the logs of the voyages of Christopher Columbus – over 2000 pages of exposition and annotations.

From the age of eight onward, I also wrote, so that when I finished reading everything ever written, I would be ready to add my stories to the list. I wrote poetry, plays, letters, columns, news stories, essays, and novels.

In my early twenties, I nearly despaired when I realized books were being published constantly, and I could not possibly read everything published in a single year, let alone everything ever written. 

I was the opposite of Alexander the Great, who wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. I could see nothing but new worlds, without any end. And I wanted to add to this river, this torrent, this avalanche of print? Yes. I wanted to add my own new worlds, even if no one ever read them.

And so I write.

Mary Rose Hennsler

What is the Literary Salon

Howdy! We’re glad you’re here

Sharon Vander Meer

Las Vegas Literary Salon hosted its first event Sunday, July 12, thanks to the Las Vegas Arts Council and the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation. The event was a delayed launch because of the pandemic. Originally, thanks to a Mustard Seed grant from the First United Presbyterian Church, the first event was to be a poetry workshop in April featuring Carolyn Martin.

After waiting for life to get back to normal, which clearly wasn’t happening soon enough for us, Patti Romero and I, founders of LVLS, decided to make use of Zoom technology to get LVLS up and running. With the encouragement and help of LVAC’s Susie Tsytee, we produced a Writers & Readers Roundtable featuring five authors. It was well attended for our first foray into the digital world and gave us much-needed encouragement to continue.

Thanks to our guests, author Ray John de Aragon, poet Joy Alesdatter, historian Tim Hagaman, poet Kathleen Lujan, and writer/performance artist Beth Urech, we saw the potential for more.

Since then we have had an event each month through November and will return to programming in January with Toby Smith, author of Crazy Fourth: How Jack Johnson Kept His Heavyweight Title and Put Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the Map.

This is the launch of our website, which is very much a work in progress. Click on Guest Roll for a brief bio and contact information for previous LVLS guests.

Going forward, we will continue with A Visit with the Author, and expand on workshops, like the one conducted by Carolyn Martin. We’re looking for ideas, so if you have a topic you would like us to explore, or a presenter who LVLS might invite, or suggestions for improvement to the site, please let us know by filling out the contact form below.

There is no cost for participants or audience members. We want to thank the LVNM Community Foundation and the Las Vegas Arts Council for their encouragement and support. And thanks to the First Presbyterian Church of Las Vegas for its Mustard Seed Grant, which allowed us to resubmit the grant request with revised deliverables. With the grant, we will purchase a one-year Zoom license and get this website off the ground. The remaining grant funds will be used to published a collection of short stories and poems by regional writers. But, that’s a story for another day.

LVLS events are generally held from 4-5 p.m., the fourth Sunday of the month. Registration is required so we may send you a Zoom invite specific to the featured guest or program. In the future, we hope to switch to in-person activities. Until then, our programming is digital.

Please share this post with your friends who love writing and reading. We’re excited about the future of Las Vegas Literary Salon. If you would like to become a member, click on the Contact tab and provide us with your email address. We will send you notification of upcoming events. We also invite you to follow this website so you don’t miss any of our posts.

A special thanks to Jim Terr who has generously edited some of our videos. We appreciate the donation of his time and expertise.

The Las Vegas Literary Salon Team
Sharon Vander Meer
Patti Romero
Mary Rose Henssler