Nye Beach Writers on the Edge

Goodbye, Nye Beach Writers Series. It was good to know you.

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For more than thirty years my vacation destination was the Oregon Coast. Leaving behind stressful jobs and busy schedules, my husband and I drove to the coast, almost every year, usually in late September or early October. We’d rent a vacation home overlooking the ocean and do nothing. Well, not really nothing. He’d golf and I’d either write or read. We’d take long walks on the beach, or just sit back and watch the sun set. We loved the quiet easy-going pace we found here and a chance to unwind and recharge before heading back to the real world in Idaho.

If you know anything about the Oregon Coast, you know there is always something happening here, either in Lincoln City or all the way down the coast to Florence. Even after all those trips, we never had time to do everything we wanted to do. Often we would leave saying next time I’m going to ….

One of the things I always wanted to do was attend one of the writer’s events back when they were still held in Yachats. But I could never fit it into our schedule.

When we moved to Oregon, one of the first things I did was attend a Writers on the Edge event at Nye Beach. It wasn’t long before I joined the board and became more involved in the organization.

A strong writing community is one of the reasons I moved to Newport. After thirty years, I still feel like I’m seeing the ocean for the first time. And every day I spend here, I learn to love Oregon more.

For our final event, Writers on the Edge will host Johnny Bargain on June 18 at 7 p.m. at the Visual Arts Center on Nye Beach. If you’re in the area, please stop by and help us celebrate a wonderful organization. And just in case you are interested, here are some things you may not know about our next author, Johnny Bargain.

11 things you may not know about JOHNNY BARGAIN

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

The stories from my past were circling in my head. I’d wanted to write a letter to my friend’s 18-year-old son who had been gunned down in the 1960s by the police as he rode his Harley Sportster in Rosebank, Staten Island. Three bullet holes punctured the boy’s back, for no good reason at all. I wanted Stitch to know he had not been forgotten even though 50 years have gone by. The memories weighed heavily and I couldn’t shake them.

Over time, I mentioned some of the incidents to Carla Perry, publisher at Dancing Moon Press and she suggested that I record them on a tape recorder since I didn’t have the patience, eyesight, or ability to write them out on paper and I don’t have a computer. She said the stories were tragic, appalling, poignant, eye opening, and funny, and that they provided a glimpse into the world of motorcycle clubs and gangs that was unlike anything she’d encountered before.

So I headed down to California for a three-day biker party and by day ten, I’d managed to record several stories. Carla transcribed the recordings when I returned, but she said more stories were needed to flesh out a full book. When I said I couldn’t remember more, she suggested I create a map of my Rosebank neighborhood — the bars, Dapper Dan’s motorcycle shop, the houses where I lived, the police station, the location of the murders, the location of infamous parties, the cemetery where Stitch was buried, and the various motorcycle club headquarters. Each time I drew a building or marked an X on the map, stories flooded out, clear as the day they’d happened. So, I headed south again for another biker party and came home with plenty of material.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I clear the space in my head by inhaling sweet weed, think of an incident from my past, turn on the tape recorder, and start talking.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

Carla Perry prepared three drafts for me. The first was to make sure the information was correctly transcribed and that I was okay with the short story titles. The second was to put the stories in order and correct name spellings. The third was the final draft. The cover designer, Sarah Gayle, also drew cartoonish maps to illustrate the locations where the stories took place, so those are interspersed throughout the book.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing was getting the stories out of my head so I don’t have to remember them anymore. I feel a sense of freedom knowing I’ve done what I hoped to do – reconnect with Stitch by writing this book dedicated to him. The worst thing is there are still more stories I’d like to get down on paper. Maybe there will be a volume 2.

5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I can’t write longhand anymore because my eyesight is not so good and I will never use a computer, so talking into the tape recorder worked great for me. Telling stories from my past is not a job. It’s something I’m compelled to do to make peace with my early life.

6) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

The best advice was when Carla Perry suggested I draw a map of my neighborhood. That was amazing. Every street corner, every bar and tavern, the cafes, the movie theater, the houses my friends lived in, every building, park, church, and school contained vivid stories from my life in Rosebank, Staten Island. It was like taping into full-color movies of what went on in the 1960s. I could remember conversations, the sounds, the smells. It was all there, hidden away in my memory.

7) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

I just speak it out so my writing style is just the same way I talk. Except it’s a little more cleaned up through the editing process.

8) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I’m a retired building engineer. I’m an artist of three-dimensional representations that hang from the ceilings and walls. I’m already 80 years old. I never planned to become a published author.

9) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

“If I don’t see you real soon, I’ll see you down the road someday.” (lyrics from “Car Outside” © Jimmy LaFave.)
“I’m surprised you’re alive.” – Fred, a member of Johnny’s Yoga class.

10) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

Maybe more stories. Volume 2 of “A Collection of Bummer Summers.”

11) What would you like us to know about your latest release?

The absolutely true stories of my life are in that book.

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A few things you may not know about Rob Yardumian

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Newport, Oregon, has an active literary community. This Saturday, May 21,  ROB YARDUMIAN will read at the Nye Beach Writers Series in the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center. at 7 p.m.

Rob is a fiction writer living in Portland, Oregon. The Sound of Songs Across the Water is his first novel, and Sing With Me, Brother, For We Have Sinned is the accompanying album of original music. His short fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, The Antioch Review, The New Orleans Review, and other literary magazines. He has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, and he is currently working on his second novel, Rider Keene.

Here are some things you may not know about Rob.

1) Why did you become a writer? How did you get started?

When I was in my twenties I worked at a record label in Los Angeles. I was asked by one of our graphic designers to contribute a couple of pages to an art project they were putting together. I wrote two one-page stories as my contributions. Although the book was never published, it kindled my interest in fiction, and I kept writing from there.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I write all day on Saturdays and Sundays, and a few hours on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Discipline is not a problem for me, as I’d rather be writing than just about anything else I could do on a weekend.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

I typically write two complete drafts, then ask my readers to review the book and give me feedback. I’ll do another draft or two after that.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career?

Getting an MFA helped me learn how to edit my own work. I’d say that’s a critical skill any serious writer must learn fairly early in the process.

5) What do you like to read? Favorite authors?

Jim Crace, Glen Duncan, Denis Johnson

6) What was the best advice you received as a writer?

“Get black on white.”

7) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

My second novel, Rider Keene, is in its third draft. I hope to begin shopping it this fall.

8) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Take notes on the books you read. Write down what you liked or didn’t like about them. What worked or didn’t work and why? What would have made it better? What kind of choices would that have required from the author? Why do you think he/she didn’t make that choice? What would you have done differently? Even if the book wasn’t a success, pick out one or two things about it that did work and explain why you liked them.

9) Something we don’t know about you?

My family has two boys, two dogs, and four cats. And next year we’re getting chickens.

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Probably a criminal mastermind with houses on three continents and a stable of flashy cars. Or a doughnut maker. I like doughnuts.

For more information about Rob, go to http://robyardumian.com

 

15 Things You May Not Know About Lauren Kessler

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This weekend Nye Beach Writers Series is hosting Lauren Kessler, from Eugene, Oregon.

Kessler is an award-winning author, (semi) fearless immersion reporter and self-designated guinea pig journalist who combines lively narrative with deep research to explore everything from the seemingly romantic but oh-so-gritty world of ballet to the wild, wild west of the anti-aging movement, from the stormy seas of the mother-daughter relationship to the hidden world of Alzheimer’s sufferers. She is the author of nine works of narrative nonfiction, including her latest, Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts and My Midlife Quest to Dance The Nutcracker. Her other work includes Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging; My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, A Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence, and Pacific Northwest Book Award winner Dancing with Rose (published in paperback as Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s.

Please join us February 20, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center. General admission is $8; students are admitted free. Open mic to follow.

 

15 Things You May Not Know About Lauren Kessler

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

I write for many reasons, but mostly I write because I am intensely curious about…well, about most everything…and writing funds my curiosity and gives legitimacy to my nosiness.  It allows me to ask questions without being a nuisance (usually).  It allows me to immerse myself in people’s lives without being arrested for stalking.  I can even eavesdrop.  At one point early in my writing career, I thought maybe I should specialize.  But I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t set those boundaries.  And so, during the past decade, I’ve written about exotic plant smuggling and assisted suicide, about communist spies and women’s basketball players, about a whorehouse in the Mojave desert , about my mother.  About Alzheimer’s.  About 21st century teen girl culture. About ballet. I write to learn.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

When I am writing (as opposed to researching, traveling, immersing myself in the world I am going to write about) I keep to a strict routine. A routine means I can focus on the work itself and not waste energy on thinking about how my day will or should go. I wake early, go for a run, then work for about 5 hours. I stand when I work. I drink many many cups of green and herbal tea. When things get tough, I chain chew Orbit Sweet Mint Gum. I don’t have a problem with discipline. This is work I love. I am intensely aware of the privilege I have to do it.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

I have never counted. And it is actually impossible to determine, given the every day fiddling, tweaking, revising, rewriting that is a normal part of the process.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best: When Stubborn Twig, which won the Oregon Book Award, was chosen as the first statewide “Everybody Reads” selection to celebrate Oregon’s sesquicentennial. I had the opportunity to travel to 23 cities and towns across the state to talk about the book, about writing and about our state’s history. Second best: Appearing on the David Letterman Show for Happy Bottom Riding Club.
The worst: When, mid-book, my editor at Viking — whom I loved and had worked with on other projects — left the publishing house.

5) What part of your job do you love the most?  Hate or dislike the most?

I love the act of writing, how alive I feel when I am making connections, when it feels as if I am truly truly using my brain. And I equally love diving into the worlds I want to write about, immersing myself fully, learning by doing.

I dislike pitching book ideas to my agent because sometimes what grabs me is not what grabs him.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel? Favorite authors?

I am a voracious reader. When I am researching a book, I immerse myself in the literature of that world — narrative nonfiction, novels, memoir, poetry, film — as well as, of course, the research and writing of experts. I read, alternately, narrative nonfiction and novels, trading off. All-time favorite authors: May Sarton, Joan Didion, Raymond Chandler, Vladmir Nabokov.

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

Best: Sweat the small stuff.
Worst: Stick with what you know.

8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

The iconic narrative/ literary nonfiction writers: John McPhee, Gay Talese, Joan Didion

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

Nope.

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Unhappy.

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

Apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I am at the beginning of a new project, another immersion into a fascinating world…but it’s too early to talk about it.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I would not wait at Penn Station for three hours for my then-boyfriend Phil who missed the train (as I too-much-later found out) because he was busy romancing another girl.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Read, read, read.

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I know all the lines to Vachel Lindsay’s poem, The Congo. Also TupTim’s speech in The King and I.

And: what’d you like us to know about your latest release:

(this is adapted from the flap copy and back cover)

The mother of three grown children who hasn’t had a ballet slipper on her foot in forty years, Lauren Kessler launches herself, full-force, on a journey to dance in the world’s most popular ballet with a professional company.
The result is a midlife quest at turns harrowing and hilarious, an exploration of what it means to venture far outside your comfort zone, to truly test your own limits and raise the bar(re) on your own life. Lauren’s quest to dance The Nutcracker with the Eugene Ballet Company tackles the big issues: fear, angst, risk, resilience, the refusal to “settle in” to midlife, the refusal to become yet another Invisible Woman. It is also a very funny, very real look at what it’s like to push yourself
further than you ever thought you could go—and what happens when you get there.

Kessler blogs at www.counterclockwisebook.com about health, wellness and living an engaged life. For more information, visit her website at laurenkessler.com.

15 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT BRITTNEY CORRIGAN

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There is always something artsy or literary happening on the Oregon Coast. That’s one of the reasons I picked Newport, Oregon, to retire. This weekend the Nye Beach Writers is hosting Brittney Corrigan, poet and writer from Portland, Oregon. (Jan. 16, 2016 at 2.p.m. at the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center. General admission is $8; students are admitted free. Open mic to follow).

Brittney is the author of the poetry collection Navigation (The Habit of Rainy Nights Press, 2012) and the chapbook 40 Weeks (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and she is the poetry editor for the online journal Hyperlexia: poetry and prose about the autism spectrum (http://hyperlexiajournal.com/). Brittney lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is both an alumna and employee of Reed College. You can find all this information in her bio, but here is something you may not know.

1) Why did you become a writer? How did you get started?

A writer was not something I became – it’s something I always was. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I started with short stories and poetry, and over the years my focus turned to poetry almost entirely. But it was my high school English teacher who most encouraged me and made me believe that it was who I really was at my core.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I don’t have a specific routine. I have two children and a full time job, so I write in bits and pieces whenever I can make the time. I carry poems around in my head for a long time before they make it to the page. Being part of a writing group that meets regularly also helps to keep me motivated and generating new work.

3) How many drafts before you feel a poem is finished?

Since my poems gestate in my head for quite some time, they usually only go through 1-2 drafts.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing was seeing the publication of my first book and first chapbook both in the same year. I wouldn’t say that I have a worst thing, but the most challenging part is finding large stretches of time to focus on writing, especially now that I’m working on a new manuscript.

 

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5) What part of writing do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I love the excitement that comes when a new poem is pouring out of me onto the page after turning it over and over in my mind for so long. If I have to pick a dislike, it would be how difficult it is for new poets to get books published and find an audience.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on poetry? Favorite authors?

I read plenty of poetry (which is very inspirational for my own work), but I also love fiction, particularly novels written in the magical realism style. My favorite poets are Sharon Olds, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, Natalie Diaz, and Deborah Digges. My favorite novelists are Tom Spanbauer, Barbara Kingsolver, Erin Morgenstern, and Ann Patchett.

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

The best advice I’ve had over the years is to just keep at it when it comes to both writing and publishing. The world of a poet is stacked high with rejection letters, but it’s important to keep sending the work out there into the world. I don’t have any specific memories of bad advice.

 

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8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

I would say the poet Maxine Scates, who I have worked with off and on since college in classes, workshops, and on my senior thesis at Reed College. She is a gifted poet and teacher, and her guidance has been invaluable to my own writing process.

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

Not specifically, but I’m riddled with OCD tendencies, so superstition runs strong in my veins!

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Well, my day job is an event planner at Reed College, where I work with faculty members on the public lecture series on campus. And I absolutely love it.

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

From Henry James, “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”

12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I’m working on a new manuscript titled Daughters, a series of persona poems that reimagine characters from mythology, folklore, fairy tales, and pop culture from the perspective of their daughters—characters such as Bigfoot, the Mad Hatter, Medusa, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Taking on such topics as aging, rebellion, loss, abuse, and judgment, the voices of Daughters aim to turn the reader’s conceptions of the characters on their ends and throw light upon what it means for a girl to come out from under her parents as a woman of her own making.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I would travel before having children. I would love to see Ireland in particular.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Find a writing group or partner, develop your writing discipline, and read, read, read!

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I have a soft spot for rescuing feral cats.

 And, what would you like us to know about your latest release?

Both of my books were released in 2012. Info on those is at http://brittneycorrigan.com/. A sample poem from Daughters can be found at http://brittneycorrigan.com/poetry/daughter-poems/. Published poems available online and forthcoming can be found at http://brittneycorrigan.com/about/publications/.

For more information about Brittney visit http://brittneycorrigan.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/Brittney-Corrigan-Writer-293186861938/?fref=ts