"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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Truckee Community Theater Performs Ten Minute Plays Written by Local Writers!

Truckee Community Theater performed this past weekend its first of many Ten Minute Play Festivals featuring plays written by local and regional writers. According to the Sierra Sun (photo credits are theirs),

"Courtney Simson, TCT's producer and publicist, welcomed the crowd and explained what each of the plays were expected to accomplish in 10 minutes.

"There is no time for exposition, these plays need to be dramatic, exciting, dialogue-driven. The characters need to grab you immediately. There needs to be conflict, and an urgent conflict, at that; followed by a climax and some kind of surprise or change at the end," Simson said."
You can read the entire article here. Not only do many of us recognize the local authors Mitch Dion, Sarah Poynter, Shannon Spangler, and Chris Widney but the audience shot from Sierra Sun reveals more local writers.  

If you want to learn how to write a ten minute play and use the skills to hone your writing in other genres, Tangled Roots Writing workshops over this winter and next spring will set you up to complete a play by next summer's deadline of July 31st.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Truckee Community Theater Auditions Coming Up 8/22

Tryouts are informal for the first Ten Minute Play Festival featuring plays by regional and local writers.  The tryouts are August 22nd at 6:30 PM at the Community Arts Center auditorium, 10046 Church Street: 

Fall 10 Minute Play Festival:  Seeking adult actors to play exciting roles in our second 10 Minute Play festival. Most parts are leads,  and this time, some of the scripts will be original plays by local writers!  This is a great way for directors and the public to get to know what actors can bring to a part. Different genres from drama to comedy, from classically based to edgy modern.  Simple sets, simple costumes.  Minimal rehearsals, usually an hour a week for five or six weeks, often in the director's home.  Try outs will be on Tuesday, August 22nd at 6:30 PM. Multiple directors.

By the 22nd, Truckee Community Theater should have selected the original plays, and will have a few published ones as backups as needed.  The audition will be to read some different parts from the scripts they have selected.

You might enjoy coming! The exciting opportunity with ten minute plays is that each actor will play a major role on stage.  Rehearsals will occur over September and October, usually in people's living rooms and involving only 2-4 actors and a director.  Set design is minimal with only one or two props.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Truckee Community Theater Call for Submissions! 8/20

Call for submissions from Truckee Community Theater:
August 20th deadline

No more than 10 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, 2-3 characters max., ten minutes long, minimal set, and creative use of props.

Email Word attachment 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.

For many samples of plays to read and use as models for your own ideas, peruse Heuer Publishing

10 Minute Playfest Guidelines by Nancy McClernan
  • Does the play pull me in right away? What is the question you want to know the answer to right away?
  • Does the play surprise me? Ie. Pacing, emotional impact, bringing in an unexpected element?
  • Does the play make me laugh or well up or both? The key is strong emotional impact.
  • Does the play have a dramatic struggle? (man against himself, against man, against nature or society)
  • Does the play have vivid characters in compelling situations?
  • Does the play show more than tell?
  • Does the play blow my mind through sheer funky originality?

Other resources:

Almost Watersheds by Micharne Cloughley
Loverboy by Michael Jalbert
Singers by Thom Wiedlich
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Scene and Structure by
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress
Plays in One Act edited by Daniel Halpern

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:


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

Monday, February 20, 2017

New 6 week generative writing workshop starts 3/6!

“Words, like sensations, are blind facts which, put together, produce a feeling no part of which was in the data.” – RP Blackmur

Writing with other writers feeds the creative impulse.  Generating new material with encouragement to take risk and experiment in content as well as craft is what we do in the Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop. 

A new 6 week series runs 3/6 - 4/17 (no class 4/10): A fun and generative workshop.  Do you wish you wrote more? Want to feel a sense of community when you write? Want to start or finish a book? Craft, technique, and prompts for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  A kick in the butt for your writing life! 

Connect with a community and improve your writing practice. Tea and chocolate provided. Mondays from 6-8 pm. $150. Downtown Truckee.  No class 4/10.  All levels of experience welcome!

Monday, January 23, 2017

And tonight I wanted to read a sonnet that fights

“First fight. Then fiddle”
I love the sonnet form, how it can be used to ponder an argument, using the turn and the 14 line constraint to strengthen the paradox or conflict. This wonderful sonnet by Gwendolyn Brooks was chosen by Robert Pinsky in response to the 2016 election for a piece in Slate.com.    

 (Gwendolyn Brooks, from The Womanhood, 1949)

First fight. Then fiddle. Ply the slipping string
With feathery sorcery; muzzle the note
With hurting love; the music that they wrote
Bewitch, bewilder. Qualify to sing
Threadwise. Devise no salt, no hempen thing
For the dear instrument to bear. Devote
The bow to silks and honey. Be remote
A while from malice and from murdering.
But first to arms, to armor. Carry hate
In front of you and harmony behind.
Be deaf to music and to beauty blind.
Win war. Rise bloody, maybe not too late
For having first to civilize a space
Wherein to play your violin with grace.
According to Robert Pinsky, "Gwendolyn Brooks’ sonnet from her sequence The Womanhood uses that form to present the relation between art and battle, with their related priorities and demands: a practical, urgent struggle for a black woman poet of Brooks’ lifetime. “To arms, to armor,” she writes, with her fluent mastery of the sonnet form enacting a victory."
Read the four poems from the past that Robert Pinsky collected for readers at Slate.com in response to the 2016 election.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Four Thursday nights in February: The Business of Writing: How to Be a Writer Who Publishes

This 4 week class at Sierra College Truckee Campus features guest speakers from our community and surrounding areas who are successful journalists, editors, published authors, marketing and ad copy writers, novelists, researchers, and free-lancers. In intimate discussion you'll be able to hear the details of how they developed the business side of their writing career, ask questions about your own projects and get resources for how to follow through from idea to book.

Through info-packed presentations and discussion, handouts with resources and talks with visiting authors, you’ll learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing. Discover tips for working with an editor, freelancing, managing your author platform including blogging and social media, writing query letters and navigating the many details of the publishing world, and maybe a few secrets of the trade. We’ll also cover opportunities at conferences, workshops and retreats, how to be a good reader at events, the painless way to handle submissions and rejections and how to get involved and promoting yourself in the literary community.

Friday, January 13, 2017

New generative creative writing workshop starts January 16th

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect." - Audre Lorde

Because of our beautiful winter storm this past week or two, you didn't miss our first meeting. The new 1/16 - 2/20 Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop starts this Monday 1/16! A fun and generative workshop.  Do you wish you wrote more? Want to feel a sense of community when you write? Want to start a book or finish a book? Want to become a craftier writer?

With a different focus on technique and creativity each week, we discuss, read, and write from a series of progressive prompts.  You will write new surprising material each week.

Craft, technique, and prompts for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. A kick in the butt for your writing life! Connect with a community and improve your writing practice. Tea and chocolate provided. Mondays from 6:00 to 8 pm. $150. Downtown Truckee.