Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Telling Tales at the Library

Last night at the Colville Public Library I talked about writing for anthologies. I'd fretted that nobody would show up, but a nice group of around fifteen people came. All appeared eager to discuss the delights of what used to be called putting pen to paper. Like me, most had been writing tales since childhood.

Though I'd called my presentation "A Penny for Your Thoughts," and indicated I'd focus on memoir, on crafting narrative essays for anthologies such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, I discovered that many in the group had other interests. Many wrote fiction, so we discussed today's market for that, especially genres such as fantasy, horror and sci fi. One gentleman has assembled an expose of the martial arts industry which he claims "isn't pretty." Another man would like to get a writers' group going and suggested a sign-up sheet for those who would be interested in periodic discussions.

I summarized the essential elements of narrative essays, provided a handout listing paying and non-paying markets for slice-of-life stories, and read two of the stories I've sold to Chicken Soup, "Pansies, Painted Ladies and Pink Polka Dots," which will be published this August in Just for Teensagers, and "Ready for Stardust," which appeared earlier this year in Grandmothers. I divulged my biggest secret for the former...learning to stay in the voice of the teen, rather than my usual voice, an aging woman reflecting on her youthful experiences. This is something I'd overlooked before...neglecting to remember who the readers of the book would be. Though plenty of grandmas will read a book called Grandmothers, they are NOT the ones who will read Just for Teenagers.

Although the group politely applauded at the conclusion of my readings of my tales, I got my biggest laugh when I mentioned something editor Colleen Sell had blogged when she was still producing the Cup of Comfort series. She'd been astonished to receive certain submissions for a book on fathers that had a publication date timed to attract Father's Day shoppers. Many contributors sent in diatribes about hateful, abusive, neglectful, foul-mouthed and even fouler-smelling alcoholic oafs whom they wholeheartedly hoped would roast for eternity in the Lake of Fire. The half dozen men who attended last night roared.

That wasn't the only laugh, though. Yesterday afternoon I'd received confirmation of the receipt of a story I've submitted for an upcoming book, My Funny Valentine. I shared what the editor had written: "Wow, Colville. I'd snicker about 'hick NE WA town' except my father is from Hunters, and I used to work ranches there in the summer. Colville and Davenport were my idea of hitting the big city."

Hey, Colville is the county seat of Stevens County and boasts a population of 5000. And even here, in the remote northeastern corner of the state, just below the Canadian border, people show up to talk about the art and craft of writing. Just as they do in the big different from Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! fifteen folks is a lot for a little meeting like that. How wonderful! My last made it all the way up to the last cut in Chicken Soup and then got pulled, 'cause it didn't fit one of their 'chapter' labels. Sigh. I did get the one in Soup and one in Cup of Comfort, before it went away.

    I'm kinda hoping Unsent Letters might help fill in some of the gaps that Cuppa left when they decided to stop them!