And the Winners are…

A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.
~ Lorrie Moore

Stephen King writes: A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger. 

Our winners reflect both these concepts.

John Crain of Cerrillos, has had professional careers in the fine arts, astronomy, and computer science. Between those unraveling strings of time in which he is forced to make money, he writes short stories, poems, and novels having to do with multiple universes. His short story, Forgiveness, appears in Las Vegas Lit’s collection, Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry. His Elmer Schooley Short Story, I Saw You in a Dream Last Night, captured in less than 1,000 words the essence of the Schooley image and took the story in a different direction, reminding readers what dreams can be made of.

Pam Lewis, of Los Ranchos, states on her author page that she was born in Burbank but moved frequently because of her father’s career path in the aviation industry. The family settled in New York City long enough for Pam to attend high school. A shy, observant girl, “a little too tall too soon,” she excelled at school when she finally set her sights on Stanford University and squeaked in on so-so grades. She is mom to two adult children.

As is true of many creatives, she has worked at a little of this and a little of that. “On the cusp,” she writes, “of her 59th year, her first book was taken by Simon and Schuster, then a second and now, with the publication of A Young Wife, a third. 

Her story for the Elmer Schooley Short Story Contest, Sometimes it’s Out of Your Hands, met the requirements of the call with writing excellence, and a tight mystery with a mere 1,150 words.

Mary Rose Henssler spent most of her life in Nevada in the small town of Battle Mountain, Henderson, neon lit Las Vegas, and other places and other states. She and husband, Bob, two dogs and a cat have found their roots at a rambling home surrounded by prairie just outside Las Vegas in New Mexico. She majored in play writing at Vermont College of Norwich University and studied script writing and voice over at UNLV. Two of her plays have been performed. Publication credits include poetry in now defunct literary magazines and a chapbook of political limericks. She writes and enjoys drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and being outdoors. Her story, The Hat, tells a tale of promises kept. She has several pieces in Tapestry.

Announcement of the winners and presentation of awards took place at the closing reception of the June Art Show and Sale, an event curated by Las Vegas Arts Council president, Richard Lindeborg. Proceeds from art sales went to support other nonprofit agencies in Las Vegas: Friends of the Montezuma Hot Springs, Hermits Peak Watershed Alliance, Las Vegas Literary Salon, Las Vegas Arts Council, MainStreet de Las Vegas, Animal Welfare Coalition of Northeastern NM , NMHU Foundation Lindeborg Fund and Collection Fund.

Artists represented included: Elmer Schooley, Dia Atman, Ellen Koment, Pamela Bounds-Seeman, Mary Beth Pizzoli, Eugene King, Eloise Lindeborg, Gail Malley, June Bowers, Ray Drew, Lina Valdez, Ethel Kriechbaum, Lucy Finch, Lee Weber, R.C. Gorman, John Gavahan, D. Chase Keightley, Clayton Lewis, Ralph Bowyer, M. Craig, Carol Dahl, Scott Vail, Ray John de Aragon, Rosa Maria Calles

The winners each received $300. Mary Rose Henssler chose to donate here prize back to the Literary Salon. The three winning stories will be published in a spring/summer anthology scheduled for release in time for the holidays 2023.


Las Vegas Literary Salon is a nonprofit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of Las Vegas Arts Council. For more information about how you can become involved, email lvliterarysalon@gmail.com. We are seeking active creatives.

Patti Writes

Hello Readers and Bloggers and Writers:

I’m taking a bit of a break this month-end to prepare for my Lit Salon Talk: Reading and Writing Historical Fiction, featuring my novel, Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a030f-pm-cover.jpg

On Sunday, July 24, 2022, 4 p.m MST, the Las Vegas Literary Salon will sponsor what I hope and plan will be a lively Zoom discussion of the genre: its forms, content, excitement, frustrations, research methods, rewards … (You may fill in your own experiences as readers/writers.)

Hope to hear from you on July 24, with your questions and comments. The zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4635856164. Registration is not required but helpful. Go to this link to register https://lvnmlitsalon.org/events-2/

Edwina Romero aka Patti Writes


I plan to attend
Lit Salon Talk: Reading and Writing Historical Fiction


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.

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.

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

A FEW FAVORITE WORDS ABOUT WORDS

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.


PATTI WRITES: Edwina P. Romero is a founding member of Las Vegas Literary Salon. She has authored several books including her novel, Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union. For more about Patti, click here.

TAPESTRY NOW AVAILABLE

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 lvliterarysalon@gmail.com 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, lvliterarysalon@gmail.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.

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Photos: Bob Henssler

The Transmogrification of My Hands

Edwina P. Romero                                                              

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.


Edwina P. Romero is a founding member of Las Vegas Literary Salon. She has authored several books including her novel, Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union. For more about Patti, click here.

INTERVIEW WITH LAS VEGAS, NM POET LAUREATE KAYT PECK

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.

Kayt Peck

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.

Author Kayt Peck’s published works.

Article written by Mary Rose Henssler whose work includes playwriting, scriptwriting, poetry and prose. She also enjoys drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and being outdoors.

_________
Photos: Courtesy Kayt Peck