"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage


Friday, July 7, 2017

Shake up your summer writing! Summer updates 2017

Hi Writers!

Thank you to everyone who came out in April to Sundance Books to hear me read with Barbara March and Monique Normand.  In June I escaped for the second time to the Surprise Valley Writers Conference hosted by Barbara and Ray March.What a beautiful conference! Talented and kind workshop leaders, high desert horse pastures and snow covered peaks, hot springs and fireside readings.  If you haven't yet experience this conference, apply for next year! 
The call for submissions from Truckee Community Theater for ten minute plays is August 20th. No more than 10 pages, 2-3 characters max. ten minutes long, minimal set and creative use of props. Send an email to: info@truckeecommunitytheater.com. Write “Play submission/your name” in subject line. Winners will be selected for production at the Ten Minute Play Festival October 28th. Editing and rehearsals will take place in September and October.

Since the Write a Ten Minute Play workshop in June was so much fun, I'll be offering it again on August 5th from 9-1 pm.  Make the most of a Saturday morning, learn everything you need to experiment in a new genre, develop craft of scene writing, and still jump in the lake that afternoon! 

Garden parties are for submitting your work. July 9th and August 20th join me in my garden with wine and appetizers, bring your laptop and specific questions, and discover how to submit your work for the best results in getting published.

Please read my blog for more information on the latest workshops with Tangled Roots Writing, or call me at 530-386-3901 to chat about your writing goals.

I'll be out and about this summer coaching students to get ahead for next year's classes and SAT tests, presenting at the Youth Writing Program at UNR, writing press releases that go beyond the usual patter, and working with clients revising novels, essays, and memoirs. In my own writing, I'll try to channel the singing cricket floating downriver on a branch. See you on the water!

Happy writing!
Karen Terrey

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Update: Write a Ten Minute Play Workshop June 17th

This fun workshop is June 17th at a beautiful home in Truckee in coordination with the Truckee Community Theater. They will be producing a ten minute play festival the last weekend in October. The call for submissions for locally written plays has an August 20th deadline. The contest is open to residents of Grass Valley/Nevada City area, Tahoe/Truckee area, and Reno/Carson City area.

The scoop: this workshop includes lunch, beverages, happy hour, social networking, Q&A on producing and directing plays, and everything you need to know about dialogue, conflict, scene, character, and structure to complete the first draft of a ten minute play in one day! (along with plenty of writing time in a beautiful garden). 10 am - 3 pm. $95. Call me about scholarship opportunities. 

We'll end the day with a 3-4 pm happy hour Q & A in the garden with Courtney Simson - learn about production and direction of ten minute plays as well as details on Truckee Community Theater's ten minute play festival in October!

Hone your skills in dialogue, scene, conflict, and character. You might get to see your play produced here in Truckee! The deadline for play submissions to the October Ten Minute Play Festival is August 20th.  A few lucky regional writers will get to see their play produced for the festival.  We have a youth category too for students entering 7th through 12th grades in the fall.

No drama experience necessary. This is a great workshop for developing the crisis scene in your story or novel or memoir even.  Experiment with character, tension, and conflict by changing up your genre. I like to call this cross-training in the writing process.

I recommend reading a few ten minute plays online to get a feel for what is important for a compelling performance.  "Grace" by Celeste Bonfanti was performed here in Truckee in May at the old Rec Center.  You can read the script at the link above - the emotional impact of just two characters sitting on a bench with a quilt and a phone makes my eyes well up every time I read it. A ten minute play generally runs 6-10 pages in length and includes no more than 2-3 characters using a limited set design.  Often one or two props work as objects of significance in the emotional meaning of the play.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Write a Ten Minute Play One Day Workshop June 17th 10 am - 3 pm

·        Learn technique for structure, scene, dialogue, conflict
·        A safe place to be creative on the page
·        Write a complete first draft in one day
·        Coordinated with Truckee Community Theater
·        Develop writing skills to strengthen other genres
·        Tons of fun writing time with guidance
·        Includes lunch, beverages, and social networking
·        Q&A Happy Hour on directing/producing plays 3-4 pm

·        Call for details!




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tamsen Donner Commits Horrid Acts with Her Husband

Tamsen Donner Commits Horrid Acts with Her Husband 
…the cabins, by order of Major Swords, were fired, and with them everything connected with this horrid and melancholy tragedy were consumed...
– Edwin Bryant, with the Eastward-bound army after conquering California, 1847

The tent, canvas from the wagon,
a pebbly texture sagging
with ice, crackling
in the cold night air.
Wind’s monologue. Dead-cold trees.

From within,
Tamsen and her dying husband
watched the layer of canvas
fearing its failure, the loss
of that distinction between inside and outside.

Storms lasted ten days at a time. 
Starving so,
skeleton shows through.
Now the body is the shape of
what’s inside.

After he died,
she stroked his body, the bones
and the tendons like wrapping twine
around his femur, radius, and ulna.
She dressed him. Then
undressed him, needing
his clothes herself.

He lay naked, under a threadbare quilt
(midwest quilting socials,
bills sewn into the squares).

She removed the blanket
and wrapped herself in it,
gazing and not

gazing.  Was she still
the woman who married him?
Was he, in death,
the man she married?  

Tamsen licked his wrist, remembering.
She used her teeth,
as when he used to bite
little purple marks into her neck.
She nibbled along

the inside of his arm – she felt most familiar
with this part of him, what was visible
as he worked,
what touched her

when he held her face
to kiss her. 
A penknife was all that was needed

to slice out a curve of pink
as if melon from its rind. 
Her tongue

ran across the inside
of the inside of his arm. 
Its damp baby-pink
surprising beneath the brown
paper bag skin

as if here
was the man she married.  Here
was the untouched part. 
She savored the hope of him,
in the hard white desert of winter -

his release from the packaging of his body,
and for her, a surrender
to the inside - the outside layers collapsing
inwards, heavy
tent walls sagging.
Silence pressed

upon her. She chewed slowly
to make him last, her eyes
closed in pleasure.

by Karen Terrey



Published in Sierra Nevada Review

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Time for Praise - Writing Odes


“I just think that praise is such an intense passion with our species,..The drive to thank someone for a gift, friendship or whatever it is, that has made a huge difference to us. It’s part of the reciprocal contract, I guess, and surely it’s one of the things art is for. I would think it’s for that reason for many of us to write love poems, positive poems.” - Sharon Olds
“Ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and belongs to the long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. Originally accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic poets to convey their strongest sentiments, the ode can be generalized as a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present.
There are three typical types of odes: the Pindaric, Horatian, and Irregular. The Pindaric is named for the ancient Greek poet Pindar, who is credited with inventing the ode. Pindaric odes were performed with a chorus and dancers, and often composed to celebrate athletic victories. They contain a formal opening, or strophe, of complex metrical structure, followed by an antistrophe, which mirrors the opening, and an epode, the final closing section of a different length and composed with a different metrical structure


Ode on My Episiotomy  


Kimberly Johnson, 1971

Forget pearls, lace-edged kerchiefs, roomy pleats—
this is my most matronly adornment:
stitches purling up the middle of me
to shut my seam, the one that jagged gaped
upon my fecund, unspeakable dark,
my indecorum needled together
with torquemadan efficiency.  
But O!  the dream of the dropped stitch!  the loophole
through which that unruly within might thread,
catch with a small snag, pull the fray, unknit 
the knots unnoticed, and undoily me.
 
Don’t lock up the parlor yet; such pleasure 
in unraveling, I may take up the sharps

and darn myself to ladylike again.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3/17 Open Mic at Art Truckee with Tahoe School of Music in Support of Sierra Poetry Festival

Please let your writer friends and students know about this super fun and diverse open mic this Friday at Art Truckee, the historic theater space in downtown Truckee from 7-9 pm.  This open mic features talented groups and individual musicians and this month we are hoping to bring in as many writers of all genres to expand the diversity of arts! And Green Beer (and other beverages) are available at the wine bar.

At this event you can support the Sierra Poetry Festival on April 1st in Grass Valley on the Sierra College Campus by learning about the readings and workshops being offered!   Sands Hall will be teaching a songwriting workshop, and other poets will be offering a range of readings, workshops, and activities.
Here is the open mic event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/121716808344284/

And here is the Sierra Poetry Festival event on FB:

Please spread the word and come to our open mic and share your work - use it as a deadline!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Make a strong first impression in 3 opening paragraphs - and other revision tips

“The risk of crossing boundaries is not just limited to trespassing on another's privacy: the ultimate challenge may lie in breaking through our reluctance to move into the tender and vulnerable places of our own lives. As writers, we must be willing to take those risks, not for journalistic reasons of the truth as fact, but for the sake of shaping the work into an art that transcends the circumstances about which we are writing. Writing hard truths with candor and compassion legitimizes and validates not only one's personal experience but, when artfully done, offers a passageway to universal truths that can illuminate and liberate.” – Kaylene Johnson



Tonight six brave writers joined the Tangled Roots Writing Revision workshop, a 4 month series to study craft and strengthen fiction and non-fiction pieces. Using Nancy Kress's book Beginnings, Middles, & Ends as a guide for our theme tonight, we explored the opening chapters of our work and considered Kress's thesis: what if you only have three paragraphs to make a good first impression? 

Four qualities make an opening interesting and original: character, conflict, specificity, and credibility.
  • Your opening should give your reader a character to focus on
  •  Conflict arises because something is not going as expected, or someone is experiencing disturbing emotions, or something is about to change
  • Effective use of details distinguishes publishable manuscripts from those that “aren’t right for us” by anchoring your story, set your opening apart from all others, and convince the reader that you know what you are talking about.
  •  Credibility comes from credible prose that is in control of words, sentences, paragraphs by using: understanding of diction, economy of words, sentence construction and variety, and tone