I will be attending the Death Rattle Writer’s Festival in Nampa, Idaho, this first weekend in October. I will be reading a flash fiction piece and manning a booth. I am attempting to SELL STUFF and this time, plan to offer some painted objects as well as my books. I plan to get the bank app on my phone as no one carries cash anymore. Except, um, me. And some business cards! I tell ya, I’m almost a competent adult this time around.
So plan on my writing about that experience and how it goes.
If you happen to be in Western Idaho and wish to attend:
Nampa is next door to Boise, by the way. Idaho is right next to Oregon. [Some might not automatically know where Idaho is. I get fuzzy on the what states are what back east and geography in general. I am so very American.]
Some pics of my wares and of course, my two novels are available for e-readers and your real life bookshelves. Cheers, all! And thanks for reading, as always.
The local paper had a blurb about, yes, a talent show. Hey, I have some of that.
It’s to be held at the Rex Theatre, the 105 year old building that used to show actual movies back in my childhood. I saw my very first flick there, with my grandmother. Charlotte’s Web, the cartoon with Debbie Reynolds voicing Charlotte. Now. I was about five or so. My grandmother bought me some candy, which was in a paper sack. Loud was not even the word for how I rattled that thing taking out this treat or that one. And I amused the entire audience who were now watching me instead of the movie at that point by asking–“What’s on the other channel, grandma?”
I’ve been a virtual hermit lately. Years now. Have not been going out or being around people.
The blurb said you could show up, register. Do a dress rehearsal, then perform for cash and prizes the next night. Four age brackets. So you don’t have to go up against five year olds in tutus. Cause. You’re gonna lose. Let’s be honest.
I found this out a day before. The oddest HEY GO DO THAT YOU CAN SING notion wiggled in my guts, wormed up to my brain, grew worm babies that slithered outward into that HEY PICK A SONG YOU CAN DO A CAPELLA.
Pick a song. Hey, you! Pick a song!
How am I to resist worm babies adorably chanting PICK A SONG? Yeah, no, you can’t.
At first, I went with May I Suggest, by way of Red Molly. As it’s sung a capella. Or without accompanying music, for those who might not know that term. When it’s just the voice. The lyrics, however, refused to stick in my noggin. If I had a few more days instead of, hey, need to perform this tonight and then really perform the crap out of it the next day…I’d have stuck with it. I was ‘getting there’ but it was shaky, shaky, oh so shaky.
I finally settled on an old chestnut– Hallelujah. I went and watched/listened to the k. d. lang version, which she KILLS. In a good way. Oh such a good way. There are eight million and sixteen verses to that song, by the way. I picked three verses and the famous chorus. I actually managed to get the lyrics down.
So I thought. Damn it.
I had one flub in my rehearsal. But other than that, it went okay. I was pleased. I didn’t embarrass the ever-living crap out of myself in my own hometown.
Tiny town, stuff like that sticks around longer than forever.
I forgot a single line, but I won’t tonight. I have all day to cement the words into my misty water-colored memory. Ha ha ha.
I won’t go into fellow performers. They all got up on that teeny stage and got through their selections. And it is fun, it’s supposed to be fun.
I have not performed in front of others for a long, long time. Let alone sang in public. My voice, rusty as all get out, didn’t croak out in the middle or let me down. I had been singing all day so I was warmed up, there’s that to consider before I put down Voice Did Not Betray Me in the list of positives. I also didn’t eat or drink anything but water. Yes, I have actual protocols and such when I perform.
So, we’ll see how this goes tonight. I will learn that last set of lyrics if it kills me. And I also have to remember to just sing it…don’t show off, don’t do anything but just sing it. Let it flow forth, be gorgeous, be subdued, be honest and raw…just let it flow forth. Don’t add to what I already did. Except remembering all the words.
I got out of the house. I did something positive, for me. It’s artsy and fun and scary. Getting up in front of a big audience [and this event usually does draw a standing room only crowd] is always a crapshoot. Live theatre! You never know. Be prepared.
Anyway! Back to reality now. Hot weather, bad hair and just what is that stuck to the floor. Dang dogs.
I skimmed an aggressively positive art-related how to blog correctly post, as you do. When you’re scrolling with a bored WTF am I doing with my life? air over on Twitter or elsewhere.
The social media sites that seem to be the wildly popular versus those who are not, with nobody-land, right there in the middle of those two extremes, being virtually uninhabited. It’s an either/or world when it comes to likes for a post across the social media global-sphere.
Whatever! Totes my goats!
So! 80 percent ‘helpful’ content for those who bother to ‘stop by’ for a visit and 20 percent SELL YOUR WARES. 80/20 which equals a hundred!
So, here’s my advice for writers.
Do not follow my example, ever. There!!
Whatever I do, writers and wannabe writers…you do the opposite. Glad I could help.
Ha ha ha, okay.
I should work up a list of writerly advice. So those that ‘stop by’ can chuckle, shake their heads or nod with wide-eyed wonder at my deep nearly unfathomable wisdom.
It’s an either-or world lately.
I must reflect that here…instead of writing a fifty page monologue with no paragraph breaks entitled, simply, “manifesto”.
Which would basically just be cuss words arranged in, hopefully, some new and startling formations, and which will end with ‘death to all enemies of unicorns’.
Because actually naming your enemy or enemies in revenge-minded cuss word-laced pages means I might have to start a GoFundMe page for a team of lawyers to get me off on the insanity plea.
All of which would make for the blog posts that the blogger who gave the rules for successful art blogging warned against!
Number one rule for writers from me? I guess it’s write. Yeah. Write stuff down. Send it off. Wait for the rejections. It’s a fun and fulfilling cycle that will turn you into a stellar human ‘bean’. Ha ha.
Always end on a happy, jokey note. Develop a heavy thick skin would be my other rule…or pretend to. You can sob in private, after all. You can pretend really hard in public.
That’s what adulting is, after all.
Oh– I have two books for sale. Two!
Oregon Gothic and House on Clark Boulevard.
I also might have Aftermath coming out soon. It’s been in editing for a while, so.
After that will probably be The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane. I’m reading through that now and it’s a hoot! I’m not puking over how bad my own prose is! That’s always a plus plus plus! Cannibal bikers versus wily old ladies in Fallon, Nevada! It’s funny and a lot gross!
Happy Halloween!! Here’s the flash fiction piece I read aloud for Death Rattle.
VINEHEART AND THE STOLEN DAUGHTERS
I stand at the window, look down. Far below me, is the old forest. The sky stretches in every direction like a gorgeous blue cloth, and I long to touch it, I long to grow wings. I reach out my hand. The sky ignores me. How long have I been in this citadel of stone and malice? My entire life. I write my small story on the pale gray stones, I use my finger and ink made of nightmares, so she cannot read it. I use my tears to wipe away the words that I fear remain etched deep, no matter how hard I scrub at them with my shabby homespun skirts. She brings me clothes once a year, plain and serviceable. Food appears in little brittle baskets. I empty myself into a bucket, there is water for washing my face, a cloth. At mystical times of the year, I have to take a full bath, under her eyes, to be cleansed and fresh-smelling for her rituals and rites. She brings me fresh flowers, not realizing how it cuts me to trace each petal, rub each leaf against my skin. Smell the odors of earth and life itself coming from that slowly dying thing.
Her name is Vineheart. A sorceress, a goddess, a demon, I am not sure what she actually is. She wanted a child. And here I am, almost grown. Vineheart will throw me away soon. The ghosts in this remaining bit of an ancient keep taught me to read, to make letters and words, and then swore me to silence…the ghosts of her other stolen daughters. Soon, I, too, will come visit the new daughter, stolen from some village cradle. Wearing whatever last I wore when still alive. One sits near the crumbling bit of wall, combing out her long transparent hair, over and over, with a transparent jeweled brush. Her throat sports another mouth, bloodless now. Vineheart simply butchered her with a stone knife. This ghost never speaks, just combs her long, long hair.
No. I will not wait here for that fate. My hair is long as well, Vineheart likes to play with it and tell me tales of dragons and ancient queens. She has just been here, and she was cold, distant, her pale eyes darting toward that village beyond the forest, where new babies wait for her long fingers to pluck them away in the cold expanses of the night. I watched her change into a raven and fly away, away. She used to lurk nearby, to see if I would try to escape. But lately, she seems indifferent to keeping me safe and locked away from all others. Oh can’t you just die, she sighed out, under her breath, her hair pale gold and dull. My hair is black as midnight and no matter what she does to it, it turns back into midnight and night itself. She quite hates my hair and curses it on occasion, but somehow, it refuses to bow to her wishes.
I know she has gone to look for a new baby to raise to fifteen years or so, before discarding that one and finding another…her endless cycle. She will return to this old ruin, long since fallen to armies no longer remembered, with a screaming babe in her stringy arms. And I will die by poison or her stone knife. My bones will be used to talk to her gods, as she used the bones of the other daughters she forcibly adopted. They told me. They watched her as she flayed their skin, removed their muscles and organs, scraped their bones clean. And how she sobbed, as if grieving. But still stripping the coverings of skin and flesh from their skeletons.
I fasten the end of my hair to the hook. The hook I always fasten it to pull Vineheart up. This will hurt me. It hurts when she yanks herself up my locks, though she is as small and delicate as the bones of a fish. I look down, the earth below me promising to break my body. And I ease myself over the ledge, my legs dangling, my hands gripping the stone edge, my hair coiled and roped and waiting for me to fall. My fingers let go. The fall shocks me. Freedom shocks me. I look up just as my hair yanks me about, and I scream at the pain, I scream. I lay there, on the earth. I think my ankle is broken, the bones poke at my skin. My scalp will never recover from that fall from grace. I am surrounded by the ghosts of my fellow stolen daughters for a moment, then they become clouds above my head. I need a new name. Rapunzel’s the name of every ghost here.
I drove myself to Mountain Home, Idaho. To do a reading of my short story, Bunny Slipper, for the tenth edition of Whistle Pig, the Southwest Idaho’s literary journal.
It’s a two hour drive, at least.
The legislators in the Gem State raised the speed limit to 80 MPH.
So, my hundred mile or so drive took TWENTY MINUTES.
No, I didn’t, but it’s nice to look down at the speedometer, realize I’m not speeding recklessly. Or that the Idaho State cops won’t be yanking my backside over for a ticket. I don’t go eighty. No. About seventy or so. I used to drive like a speed fiend. I have the tickets to prove it. I’ve turned into that slow duffer. In the right lane, putting along. With others whizzing by at a hundred, all of them praying the cops are elsewhere…!
A lovely day. The gauge hit in the mid-sixties. Sunshine. No wind. I had the radio on, noticed the station, the River as it’s referred to, seemed to play the same set of songs. From a U2 combo of Pride, in the Name of Love and Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For to some whiny men singing about friends and weed. I seriously cannot hear the difference in today’s musical men or women. It all sounds alike. I have Old Man Get Off My Lawn Tin Ear-itus these days.
Oh and the River plays Love Shack, a lot, by the B-52’s. I turn that shit up! It feels so decadent to be tooling down I-84, on my way to not the love shack. Tin roof. RUSTED.
No, I don’t have that fancy thingamabob where you store every song every invented, that hooks into your car something or other. I, gulp, jab the buttons on the car stereo, like some old-fashioned dope.
Now, this stretch of the freeway is known to me. I attended UNLV way back when, so I usually entered Idaho after taking the three seconds it takes to drive through Jackpot, Nevada. Up the 93, with other highways thrown in.
I would then head for the freeway, head back to Eastern Oregon across southern Idaho. I never stopped in Mountain Home, that I remember. I drove past it, a lot. There’s also a rest stop just outside Boise, which I did stop at if my back teeth were swimming.
It’s really hard to pee if you’re on a freeway. You can’t just pull over and go. Like you can on a mostly deserted back country highway. Which I’ve done. You gotta go, it’s urgent, there’s no cars in either direction.
You yank the vehicle over, you listen for motors. You hastily squat and yeah, you hear a car approaching…yep. Every. Single. Time. You can drive for literally miles without seeing another car on a Nevada highway and then, the moment you give in, decide to water the weeds a bit, yeah. There’s a freaking parade going by.
Here’s where guys have it easy. They can just casually stand by their collection of metal and rubber wheels, whiz discreetly while pretending to be looking at something by the side of the road. Oh sure, we all know what that guy, standing by his pulled over car or truck is doing. Sure. But we pretend he’s looking at a tree or a river or a crumpled Arby’s sack hanging artistically from a clump of sagebrush.
Whereas women have to yank pants down or lift a skirt, squat. It’s a whole rigmarole. What? Wait until you get to a rest area or a truck stop or a gas station?? Yeah, when the next one is fifty to a hundred miles off? Sometimes the bladder wants what the bladder wants.
Where was I???
Oh yeah, reading a bit from a short story in Mountain Home, Idaho.
It went well. I enjoyed the other selections. There was local art work, from young kids to the elderly. Idaho has talent and it’s rather surprising how thriving the arty community is. I felt energized. It’s write a novel month coming up in November. I plan to tackle my Starved Out Eastern Oregon ranchers versus Big Gubbermint attempt. No ghosts, goblins, zombies or vampires. None! Just people being all people, as they do at times.
Exit 90 is the exit I took. You then turn right, drive a bit. If you want, you can head off to Bruneau, and the famous sand dunes.
The place I sought sits on the right. El Herradero. I treated myself to enchiladas, pork. I had to go back out, find the other room where the readings would take place. I got there to Mountain Home a bit early.
I managed to read without sounding like a squeaky mouse. I kept my reading fairly short. I used my actor training to modulate my voice. I did not touch the mic which kept going on and off for others, as microphones do at times. The atmosphere for the Whistle Pig gala was pretty laid back, warm, charming and gracious. Everyone seemed to know each other. As you do in a close-knit artist’s community such as this.
Now, I parked across the way, in the Albertson’s parking lot, the Jimmy [GMC] pointed at the one-way street I needed to get back on to get back out to the freeway heading west. I’m always thinking, when I have to get to a new place, how do I get back again. I did manage to find the freeway entrance, in the dark, and got back again obviously, instead of heading off to Twin Falls. Though, if I had gotten on the freeway going the way I did not want to go, I could just take an exit, yeah. Though, that exit might not be for some miles, so. And the cops, even in Idaho, frown at doing a u-turn on the freeway. I joke. Idaho cops would find that a ticket-worthy offense. Among other things.
Speaking of cops!
It was Friday night, so the cops were out IN FORCE. Saw lots of red and blue lights! Even when I got super-close to home, there were cop lights going off. I even thought one was going to pull me over…but it didn’t come after me creeping past the Malheur Butte, wondering where all the papers were, if my license was even in my purse and…yeah.
I had had a Pepsi and a glass of water, so no worries that way. Yay!
Also didn’t take many pictures. I just. Ugh.
To sum up, I got to Mountain Home and back home again. I left at about three thirty, got back at eleven at night on the dot. I read my piece, I didn’t embarrass myself.
It was called Bunny Slipper. About a man who buries his unwanted convenient sort of wife in the Nevada desert and she crawls out of that hole to come find him. Sad, with maggots. Yeah. The usual dreary stuff.
As I mentioned, I went to a writer’s festival in Nampa, Idaho. It took place downtown, as they say. Outside of the Prefunk Beer Bar on 1st Street, South. You get off on Exit 35, take Northside Avenue.
Saturday, I went to try and sell some books. I roughly had the mood equivalent of a dead turtle, so…won’t go into that because I don’t want to. It rained a bit. I bought some raspberry lemonade fudge from the farmer’s market. Pigeons.
I drove over, somehow got there in about twenty minutes. As it’s nearly fifty miles to Nampa from my den of utter aloneness, I bent the laws of time and space! Also, the day proved to be a nice one. No rain, no wind, perfect fall weather, though a bit chilly as the day drew onward into the star-smeared night.
A workshop, where everyone there began the initial creation of a comic strip. Led by a lovely woman comics artist from Seattle, I believe. Thu Tran.
How to break up the dialogue. How to create the character or characters that will speak the words.
Write some lines. Try to draw the ones speaking those lines. Practice getting a creation you can draw over and over, until it’s almost automatic.
I did okay. People around were smart, drawing animals or bottles of spaghetti sauce. I drew people. I eventually just got to circle and triangle, with faces on each, for my characters. With differing expressions. I also drew them in profile. This actually helps me, as a playwright and prose spewer, to cut unnecessary dialogue.
What absolutely needs to be said? What can be cut? What is essential? Also, sitting for nearly two hours, drawing, helps calm the anxiety I have being AROUND OTHERS.
I also want to mention another writer I met. Javier Luna. Super-nice, friendly and talented. Thanks for talking to me. I’m an awkward social outcast right now, so thanks.
The next big group thing: poetry readings. It took place in one of the buildings over where the farmer’s market had been. I just trailed after people like a stray dog, as I had no idea what building. Was. The building.
I’m also one of those people that when told something will start at X time, I actually expect it to start at X time, not whenever people stop farting around…Okay! But! If you have to set up microphones and move equipment, yep. I get it, I do. Been there myself. I’m always early to stuff, I’m also one of those pests.
I did enjoy this. Some poets more than others, as you do. I rather like the idea that there are so many poets within a hundred mile radius. It’s rather heartening. I liked the humor that crept out or blasted from the get-go in some of those readings. I got to thrill to odd phrases that caught my attention.
I noted that I was not wearing the writer garb nearly everyone else wore– dull colors, sweats, knitted caps, black the primary color…dang it. I wore a bright yellow top with a silver sparkly sweater, and BLACK PANTS. I got part of the Writer Uniform right.
If you’ve ever been to a poetry reading, then you pretty much know how this one went. If not, you should go. Hearing people read their own work should be a life goal if you’ve not done so already. Often times, these readings are free and open to the public, and you get to support a local poet or group of poets. In these times, yeah.
We need our artists. We need them. We need them when things are not whack-a-mole off the charts batshit insane, too.
Slight break, then the flash fiction portion of the evening would begin. Here, the entire kit and kaboodle got moved back to the alley outside the bar. Running a bit late. It’s Sunday night.
Did I mention I’d had two drinks and no food? That I’m trying not to just go home, forget the whole thing? That I kept wondering why I’d worn such bright clothes?? Why hadn’t I slipped a dull hat over my grandma-ish-fixed-and-sprayed hair?? Why??? I had slapped makeup on! Dang it! I have knitted dull hats! Somewhere.
I had a dragonfruit cider, and then a giant huckleberry one. Prefunk is a microbrewery kinda hipster place. Not really, but sorta, yeah. I thought the dragonfruit cider tasted like a wine cooler. But the huckleberry one tasted swell. Like huckleberries.
The flash fiction reading had a theme. High fantasy, fantasy, sword and sorcery, etc! I happened to actually read the submission blurt, and sent in a quick take I had of Rapunzel called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters.
Originally, this one started off as Prisoner. What a dull, pedestrian title! I wrote the first draft of this for some themed contest, about prisoners or being locked up or blah. I know it had a theme to do with being locked up, breaking free of that. Something like that.
Did my piece win over those who read it? Nope! So I kept reworking my Rapunzel take, renamed it, renamed it again. Have super-long versions, then did a shorty version. Which ended up as a piece to be read at the Death Rattle Flash Fiction portion.
I went third. The night had turned cold enough for coats. October. Sunday evening.
Now, I thought my voice sounded like one of the squeaky mice from Cinderella. Ugh! I did manage to get through it, people listened. It was eight hundred words or so. I didn’t embarrass myself. That’s pretty much all I’ve got to go on these days. That I didn’t embarrass myself in public too badly.
People did stop by to say they enjoyed it.
The other pieces had a mostly light-hearted, funny bent to them. Very enjoyable to sit there and listen to them. Lots of fun word play, alchemists and witches and dragons. Even an appearance by Persephone. For a tiny bit, the real world couldn’t intrude here. For a tiny bit, one believed everything would turn out okay.
Then, you drive home, after discovering a Burger King on the corner where you need to turn to get back to the freeway. Nothing since a dubious lunch. Burger King it is! Money? Sure, I got some of that scattered in small coins across the bottom of my purse…
To sum up– I attended a local writer’s festival. I enjoyed it. I read a flash fiction piece. I drove home. The end!
Not quite the end yet– I also want to say a big thanks to Sarah, Reed, the tall guy in the baseball cap who did bad high fantasy punning, and the other organizers of this event. Thanks for being welcoming, and inclusive.
Well, it’s almost here. Book fair in Nampa, Idaho, for the Death Rattle writer’s festival. I airily asked for booth space to sell my stack of unsold books. Then, I decided I needed posters to advertise I’m a REAL WRITER. So I’ve been obsessing over that. Redoing them. Discovering I had some green body glitter from way back that, yes, can be used accordingly. I’ve been using spray paint.
I’ll also be reading a short piece called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters, which is a quickie take on Rapunzel.
My mood is low, and I almost want to bow out of this whole thing. Just hide in my room. I had a job interview, I botched it, I did something very wrong. I didn’t get a job I could do in my sleep half-dead with typhoid. With two degrees in that subject. I seem to have “loser” tattooed on my forehead…I know, you’re supposed to be positive all the damn time. Sorry. I’ll buck up. Write some zany review of a television show that’s been off the air for years. Yeah. It’s been raining. We needed it.