Writing and reading go hand-in-hand

Writers write. Right?

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:

  • excellent
  • first-class
  • great
  • outstanding
  • quality
  • superior
  • prime
  • supreme
  • wonderful

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.”

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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.

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NOTE: If you are interested in being on the Las Vegas Literary Salon planning team, contact lvliterarysalon@gmail.com. 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.

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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.

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November launch of Tapestry! Details to come.

Celebrating young writers

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.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JULY 1

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 lvliterarysalon@gmail.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.


HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE LAS VEGAS?

When someone who has never been here asks you about our community, what do you say? I tend to talk about the live music that bursts out seemingly at random, especially in the summer. One Friday night pre-covid, my husband and I walked by the Plaza Park and heard guitars, a keyboard, trumpet, and drums. We paused for a few minutes of dancing, and then walked down Bridge Street, where a small band played in the breezeway, part of an opening at Gallery 140. Across the street at Borracho’s, we heard another band playing. And when we walked across the bridge and another block up the hill to Burris Hall, a guitar player sang and played softly at another gallery opening.

Or maybe you talk about the architecture, and the fact that we have over 900 houses and other buildings on the National Historic Register. Amazing. And talk about the architecture naturally leads to discussion of the history of the area. And that might lead to mention of the Fiesta in early July, when vendors circle the park and flow down both sides of Bridge Street, while in the park itself, families sit and talk to friends they only see at Fiesta, when everyone comes in from the ranches and they catch up on everyone’s news, and they watch flamenco dancers perform and listen to live music for days.

And that’s another thing, we have so many local artists who show their work not only at the galleries, but at Borracho’s, Travelers, and The Skillet (owned and run by two artists who have MFAs in sculpture and painting – I think all of the art in there is their own.)

If you are talking to someone who has a motorcycle, they might have questions about the motorcycle rally in late July, when hundreds of bikers, many headed for Sturgis, stop for a couple of days in Las Vegas for bike-related events or just to see old friends.

That’s another wonderful thing about our town. People are genuinely friendly, and will stop and pass the time of day. I once talked to a man in a gallery who told me he was in a hurry, and just needed to turn in a form, then proceeded to spend another 45 minutes talking to me and to everyone else who came through the door. He looked far more relaxed when he left.

There is a dark side. Every community in every state confronts problems. Maybe that’s where your mind goes.

But whatever you say, or think, how about expressing yourself in the pages of Tapestry, the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s upcoming offering of writings from present and former residents of northeastern New Mexico. From one of the other small villages or towns or ranches in the area? That’s great. We want to hear about your home, too. Have a great story about what happened when someone crashed Christmas dinner? Tell it as a short story. And don’t worry, as long as you change the name, people never recognize themselves in fiction.

The Literary Salon is now accepting submissions of short stories, essays, and poetry for Tapestry. Check the guidelines on this website.

Yea! Open Mic Event a Success

I’m going to crow just a bit. Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Edwina (Patti) Romero, suggested we do an open mic event in recognition of poetry month, celebrated annually in April. We already had an April event scheduled, Dreams and Creativity presented by Jan Beurskens, but we decided to add the event to the schedule and see how it developed.

It developed very well. Eighteen signed up for the first Open Mic poetry reading on April 29, to read poetry, either their own or the work of another poet. Thanks to these amazing talents who shared their passion for poetry. Three of them were West Las Vegas High School students, and one was their teacher, who also read the work of a student who couldn’t make the Zoom event. See the names of participants here.

This is the eleventh Lit Salon event since we launched in July 2020. Check out our Guest Roll to read more information about the presentations, authors, and books we’ve featured.

So, why a Literary Salon? The founders of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, Patti Romero and Sharon Vander Meer, wanted there to be opportunities for writers and readers to come together in a welcoming environment where the art of the written word may be celebrated.

It appears, we’re on the right track. With the encouragement of Susie Tsyitee of the Las Vegas Arts Council, and with funding from a Mustard Seed Grant, we moved the idea forward, one guest – sometimes more – at a time.

The Great Pandemic of 2020-2021 was not the obstacle it might have been. Through Zoom, we have reached a growing audience and expanded our network.

One of our projects is the publication of Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry, a collection of written work by Las Vegas and area writers. To qualify for the publication, you must live – or have lived – in Las Vegas or 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. 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.

Tapestry authors will receive a copy of the book as compensation and a publishing credit to add to their writing resume.

This is a fundraiser for Las Vegas Literary Salon. Proceeds from sale of the book will go to the Las Vegas Arts Council, our fiscal sponsor, to support future programming and workshops. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2021. Projected publication date is mid-November, just in time for Christmas sales.

Stay up-to-date on Lit Salon news and upcoming events, follow this website lvlitsalon.org. We appreciate your support and participation. If there is an author you would like to see featured, contact the Lit Salon at lvliterarysalon@gmail.com.

Our Visit with the Author May 23, will be retired educator Alvin Korte. More to come about Mr. Korte and his work.


Other Lit Salon news:
Call for Submissions – Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry.
Find out more here. Deadline for submissions, June 1, 2021
A Visit with the Author, Alvin O. Korte, May 23 on Zoom.
See our Poetry Open Mic event video here.


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


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.