Jun 24, 2009

Gay Pride Open Mic Night

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Women & Children First’s annual Gay Pride open mic night. Hosted by Chicago poet Gregg Shapiro, it was an evening of merriment, contemplation, and a bit of naughtiness.

Jenn P. began the evening with her rockin’, slam style, lesbian poetry. As a performer, Jenn P. was engaging, intimate, and energetic. I thought it would be difficult for the others to follow her brilliant performance.

Craig Seymour thrilled the audience with a section of his story about his life as a gay stripper in DC. Very risqué. Richard Fox read from his book of poetry, Swagger and Remorse. Robert Rodi had a quiet, confident way about him. Although he read from his newest book, a work of non-fiction about dog showing, I'm now interested in looking up his fiction because of his crisp, clean style of writing.

I was intrigued by Anne Laughlin’s from her mystery book about a lesbian sheriff. Jennifer Harris read a section from her farcical novel, Pink, which is about a girl imagining her book being published and made into a movie.

W&CF owner, Linda Bubon, read a humorous story about her recent 40 year reunion and events coordinator, Kathie Bergquist, read a comical excerpt of her novel, which was a special treat.

There were several non-featured writers/poets and I'm afraid I didn't get their names. (Next time I will!) But I was impressed that the majority of the unknown poets were quite decent. I’ve gone to so many open mics where most of the poetry is just plain awful. W&CF does seem to attract talent.

Please check out http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/ for upcoming literary events.

Jun 16, 2009

Meet Leslie Goshko, Comedian & Performer Extraordinaire

I met Leslie Goshko on my very, first day at Oral Roberts University and she was wearing these amazing, rainbow socks. I’ll never forget those socks. Leslie is the kind of person that really sticks in your memory, which is great for me because I have a sucky memory.

Leslie is a New York performer who loves all things comedy: stand-up, improv, sketch, writing and producing. She is a 2008 Manhattan Monologue Slam Champion, member of the amazing New York improv troupes, Start Trekkin’ and the Headshop Guerillas, and hosts a monthly show at Comix Comedy Club entitled Sideshow Goshko, where comedians share bizarre tales about themselves. In February of 2007, she won the national Big Bopper Dance Topper dance contest for the Broadway musical Hairspray, which allowed her to perform onstage with the Broadway cast. In May of 2007, she wrote, directed, and produced the original full-length musical comedy, 16 Bars. Leslie also contributes her comedy writings to the NY Metro Funny Page and FunnyNotSlutty.com.

G: There’s an evil rumor floating around that you’re Canadian. What's that all about?

L: Well, I’m actually not Canadian, but I’ve been to Canada enough that I could probably pass for a Canuck. My family has been taking me fishing up there ever since before I could hold a pole. Hmm…that sounds dirty. I’m actually a Chicago native. Hollah!

G: I’ve heard rumors of alien landings and kidnappings in Tulsa, especially on the campus of Oral Roberts University. Were you ever kidnapped or brain-washed?

L: What?!? How dare you! That’s absurd! I am merely a faithful servant and my people shall complete our mission and carry out the directive of the grand supreme…oh dammit, it’s happening again. Um…so, I guess…yes. *harrumph*

G: What’s the thing you like most about living in New York City?

L: Gosh, there’s a laundry list of things. But I guess the thing I love most about it is the energy. There’s always something going on and people are always going somewhere. I love that I can leave the house at any moment and catch a $5 show at UCB or grab a slice of pizza and people watch in Central Park. But don’t get me wrong, I could also give a list of things I hate, which at the top of the list would be when a roach fell out of my cabinet the other day and landed in my hair. That’s right…a ROACH in MY HAIR!!! Wanna come visit?

G: The list of shows that you’re doing is imposing. When do you sleep?

L: Haha…thanks. It’s funny ‘cause I don’t think that way. I always feel like I could be doing more. In one of my favorite films, “Comedian,” (I highly recommend it) there’s a scene between Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn where Quinn just goes, “Work work work work work.” That’s how I feel. Work harder. Work more. I’m never satisfied.

G: Who are your heroes/heroines?

L: Gilda Radner! Hands down. If I ever got a tattoo it would be of her. Let’s see, after her it would be Steve Martin, Johnny Carson, and Amy Sedaris. Those are at the top. Although for a while there I struggled with forgiving Steve Martin for making “Bringing Down the House.” Why, Steve?!? Why?!?!?!”

G: What song best describes you?

L: God, this is hard. I guess it depends on what I’m going through at the time. But I do have my staple bands that I always come back to: Pink Floyd, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Ben Folds. Lately I’ve been obsessed with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” Kind of a nice thought in and of itself.

G: If you were an infectious disease, what would you be and why?

L: Oh my God! You have no idea how much this question freaks me out. I’m a complete germaphobe/hypochondriac. I sani-wipe my hands about a million times a day. Kind of a bad condition to have when you live in a city of 8 million people, but there it is. Let’s see, I guess I would have to be ricketts. There’s just something about that word that makes me laugh. Ricketts…it’s HI-LAR-IOUS!

G: What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?

L: Hmm…let’s see. Embarassing?...I’ve definitely had my share of bombing and feeling like I f*cked up, but I don’t know if I would classify it as embarrassing. Oh, here’s one. This goes back to my days of musical theatre (shout out to all my geektastic MT peeps out there who used to listen to Hair and Company in their rooms as they lip synched in the mirror!)…I was playing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and there was always this super fast costume change I’d have to do and the costume didn’t allow for me to wear a bra. So every night, as I’m standing there in the wings in a thong and no bra, every male stagehand with a half boner would watch me change my clothes, half naked for about 30 seconds. It was very hot.

Leslie can be seen performing hilarity at Comix, Gotham, Broadway Comedy Club,
UCB, The PIT, Sage Theatre, and many, many more. She performed a one-woman show at UCB this year and she’s going to be in the NY Fringe Festival acting in a comedic play.

Please check her out at http://www.ohmygoshko.com/ !


Jun 11, 2009

In Case You Haven't Met Denny & Haley Yet

I just realized that I haven't posted anything about my debut novel recently and I'm working hard to attract new readers to my blog. So here's a little introduction:

“Cast the First Stone” is not about vampires, shopping, or finding “Mr. Right.” :)

The two main characters, Denny Stone and Haley Fisher, could not be more different, but they both feel trapped in small town, Oklahoma. Denny is being raised by her career-driven mom. Her dad dropped out of her life when she was a toddler. The beginning of each chapter starts with a letter from Denny to her dad. Denny doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere. She’s angry and searching for herself and for answers. Haley is searching for answers too and she finds them in God. Her parents are together, but her dad has to work all the time to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Her mom is battling depression and so Haley is left to raise herself and her sibling(s) on her own most of the time. She takes this very seriously, but she’s also envious of Denny’s freedom.

I wanted to write a story that reflects a strong camaraderie between girls. This is a coming of age story where two girls are tough and they’ve got each other’s back. This isn’t about obsession with boys, although they are in there, and this isn’t about fashion or trying to be popular. It’s about two girls struggling with issues that are way above their heads. They make it through because they have each other.

I’m a strong feminist, but I also have fantastic guy friends and two younger brothers, so I wanted to create characters that acted like people I’ve known. I’ve got these characters that are all on their separate journeys and they collide into each other and impact each other in different ways. They’re sometimes insecure, sometimes stupid, but they’re also loyal, intelligent, and honest.

When I started writing this story, I didn’t try to categorize it in any way. But the story is told by a 16/17 yr. old girl, in her own words and the narration of the novel is dialogue driven. When I was in high school, I didn’t read anything like this, but I wish I had. When I finished the book, I was pretty sure that I couldn’t label it Young Adult because of the strong language, sex, and alcohol usage. When people asked me what kind of book it was, I started looking at the novels in the Young Adult section at bookstores. I was pretty shocked at the explicit themes of the books. So I’m proud to say that my first novel is Y.A., but I think anyone over the age of 14 will identify with the characters.

Jun 8, 2009

The 25th Annual Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago

David and I arrived rather late on Saturday afternoon, wearing heavy jackets to ward of the chill and brandishing a clear umbrella. Tents filled the historic Printers Row in downtown Chicago and were filled with books, books, and more books. There are small press publishers, local bookstores, and authors from around the country.

Almost immediately, I was snatched up by a raven-haired temptress in glasses. Amy Guth was doing live, streaming interviews with authors throughout the day and had a few minutes to fill. http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-subtext/ I was kidnapped and place infront of a mike and a laptop camera. I was freaking out, but trying to play it cool. My very first interview! David says I did well, but I kept coming up with better answers later on. Also, I hate the sound of my voice on recordings. Oh, well. Amy is an awesome interviewer and did her best to make me comfortable.

We chatted with Featherproof Books http://www.featherproof.com/ , which is a whimsical, small press publisher. If the Decemberists were transformed into a book publisher, they would look like this. Is it possible to have a crush on a company? David practically had to drag me over to talk to them. I was struck under a spell of shyness. They were kind and encouraging. I may submit a short story to be included in their free mini-books.

We walked quickly, as it was wet and cold and threatening rain. We stopped inside Flaco’s Tacos for some good, cheap eats. Great tamales.

We stopped by the Women and Children First booth and purchased Jeanette Winterson’s “The Stone Gods.” I introduced myself to the owner and thanked her for carrying my book. I hope it sells!

On Sunday, we arrived earlier in order to attend several panels. We went to the Young Adult panel and bought “The Order of Odd Fish” by my favorite writer-to-be-on-a-panel-with, James Kennedy. He is hilarious and I can’t wait to start reading his book. I learned so much about being a new writer and the publishing game during the panel.

We then raced over to listen to Charles Baxter being interviewed about his new novel, “The Soul Thief.” Both David and I were impressed by his articulate comprehension of the writing process and his delight in stories. Listening to him speak about his writing was like drinking fine wine. It was delicious.

We ran from there to a panel on the Crisis of Reading, where we learned that most of the participants didn’t believe there was a crisis. Amy Guth was very articulate when she spoke about how the way we receive information is different and how writers need to adjust to the needs of their readers. Readers have so much information thrown at them from everywhere. There’s much more responsibility on the writer to be accessible to his/her audience.

After stuffing my head with lots of information and inspiration, we decided we needed sustenance. We walked into brightly decorated Epic Burger and were happily surprised. I ordered the turkey burger and, yes, I can attest that it was epic.

Jun 6, 2009

Vote on your favorite one line description of "Cast the First Stone!"

Cast the First Stone is…

-like Stargirl’s evil twin.

-what Mark Twain would have written had he been a lesbian.

-what Judy Blume might have written had she been a punk in combat boots.

-not about vampires, shopping, or finding Mr. Right.

-like MTV’s “Daria” with a drinking problem.

-what Judy Blume might have written had she been drunk.

-one part The Princess Bride and two parts rum and cigarettes.

-Princess Leia meets Joan Jett in Oklahoma.