This past week, I had two wonderful appearances, firstly as part of the Bards and Brews reading series, and then leading the monthly Young Willamette Writers workshop!
1) Bards and Brews
I was late. Yes, late for my own reading. I do have an excellent excuse, however: I am always late. It’s something hardwired into my DNA. I can’t prove that, exactly, because I was late for my doctor’s appointment, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Luckily, I was to read with four other wonderful authors—Ripley Patton (GHOST HAND), Maggie Faire (CHAMELEON: THE AWAKENING), Mary Jane Nordgren (QUIET COURAGE), and Cat Winters (IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS)—so I was covered. This reading, at Primrose & Tumbleweeds in Hillsboro, Oregon, was different than my usual readings for three reasons. 1) It was at night. Usually, as a children’s author, your readings fall somewhere between nap time and dinner. 2) The audience was adults. Luckily, most of the jokes didn’t fly under their heads. 3) There was wine. Wine and signing books, I have found, is not a winning combination. So I sang, told a few jokes—or at least made several statement intended at producing mirth—and dragged two rather unwilling yet game audience members up to the podium to help me read the first chapter of Heck. I like doing this as this makes less work for me. And, in a few hundred blinks of an eye, my portion of the reading was over and I got to enjoy listening to other less socially awkward authors read their work! I even bought a book and had it signed. By the actual author, no less! After the event was over, I listened to music way to loud in the car since I never drive, which is great fun, not only because it’s a blast to scream while hurtling in a metal box along a freeway, but then—when my wife uses the car first thing in the morning—the radio immediately comes on, blaring, and scares the figurative crap out of her!
2) Young Willamette Writers Workshop
Next, it was off to Portland’s Old Church—which is an indeed a church that is very old—to give a workshop for a group of budding writers focused on building compelling characters with original voices, which is really hard, since—if you aren’t careful—all of your characters can begin to sound like you using a funny voices. One way of preventing this is to work in coffee shops so that, if you start using the funny voices, you will be publicly embarrassed by a hipster barista, which is pretty much the worse thing that can happen to a writer. I warmed up the crowd of a dozen young scribes with a song. The only problem was, when the Young Willamette Writers group holds their monthly meeting, there is a bigger meeting for the adults next door where they have a speaker read and what not. And, this being a church (an old one), my beautiful voice and exquisite guitar playing really carried, as if held aloft by angels, and filled the building with song. It was like at Thanksgiving dinner, where the adults are prattling away at the big table, and then suddenly the kids’ table erupts with laughter, and gets glared at. So doors were closed, and I continued, unashamed.
Usually I show up to my workshops with a multimedia presentation to help keep me on track and to be sure that all of the attendees can take part in the prompts and exercises. And, perhaps this being an old church, it also came equipped with old computer connectors, meaning, I couldn’t project my presentation. But, no matter: when life serves you lemons, you simply have the kids huddle around your computer to watch your Keynote presentation of lemons. There is nothing more satisfying than giving a workshop where all of the attendees really WANT to be there and get busy writing! Some great characters were created, including ghost teens and talking microwaves, and everything in between!
And, in two weeks, things get even more interesting as I fly out to St. Louis to take part in author Heather Brewer’s amazing anti-bully extravaganza, the Less Than Three conference!