Betsy Miller’s “Collectibles”

Do you have enough Betsy Miller fiction in your life? We thought not. That’s why we were delighted to share more of her work at New Year Nouveau in January at Cafe Stritch. Watch Melinda Marks read Betsy’s “Collectibles”:

Betsy also writes under the name Bethany Gray. This same piece was previously published by Evil Girlfriend Media. She is one of the co-founders of Thinking Ink Press, a small independent press. She is currently working on a children’s picture book, Brooklynn Bunny’s Super Boots, and on a young adult novel called Dance, Interrupted.

Introducing the World of Bethany Gray

Melinda Marks reads "Collectibles" by Betsy Miller at New Year Nouveau. Photo: Andrew Christian.

Last week we were delighted to perform another piece by Silicon Valley writer Betsy Miller, who also writes under the pen name Bethany Gray. Melinda Marks kicked off New Year Nouveau by reading her story “Collectibles.” We’ll be posting video from that performance over the next few weeks, though in the meantime you can watch the show in its entirety at South Bay Pulse’s YouTube page (see Part I and Part II).

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Melinda Marks reads “Collectibles” by Betsy Miller at New Year Nouveau. Photo: Andrew Christian.

Bethany Gray writes stories about things just below the surface of your life that you can almost see out of the corner of your eye. Gray lives in Silicon Valley, where she also writes about passive-aggressive wireless equipment that wants you to think it’s your fault. But it’s totally not.

Publications, Honors or Awards:

Betsy Miller is the author of The Parents’ Guide to Perthes, The Parents’ Guide to Clubfoot, and The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and in various magazines and publications.

Upcoming projects:

Betsy Miller
Betsy Miller, also known as Bethany Gray

I’ve recently started using the pen name Bethany Gray for my speculative fiction set it apart from my children’s health books. My story “Collectibles,” which was performed at Play On Words, is a Bethany Gray story that was edited a bit for length. You can read the full-length version online at Evil Girlfriend Media, where it was published as an EMG short. You can also read “The Language of the Dead” at Youth Imagination magazine. That’s a spooky story for teens that was published for Halloween. As 2016 unfolds, stay tuned for more Bethany Gray stories, and possibly a Betsy Miller book.

 What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love seeing the actors bring stories and plays to life. The shows are a lot of fun.

Keiko O’Leary’s Dreams

Well, Playonwordsians, we did it: we powered through New Year Nouveau. Thanks to everyone who joined us last night in person and online. We wanted to introduce you to one of our new contributors, Keiko O’Leary, whose piece, “The Golden Beauty of Carlina Johansen, Author of Milliner’s Dreams,” was performed last night by Alex Draa.

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Keiko O’Leary

Keiko writes short stories, primarily flash fiction. She also organizes the almost-weekly writing group Write to the End. She is a co-founder of Thinking Ink Press.

Publications, Honors or Awards:

I’m proud to have participated in the Flash Fiction Forum’s first annual pubcrawl, where I read my flash piece “The Ghost of Ice Cream.” My story “White Mice” was also chosen for a Flash Fiction Forum. “White Mice” is available from Thinking Ink Press as a postcard that includes my original artwork Warning: Narrative Hazard. (Okay, I also make visual art. But shh! Don’t tell anyone.)

 Upcoming projects:

Since 2004 I’ve organized Write to the End, a writing group that meets most Tuesday nights. Anyone is welcome. Please visit http://writetotheend.com for details on how to attend. There you can also read articles about writing by members of our group.

Thinking Ink Press is looking for submissions. We consider any length or genre, but I’m especially interested in flash pieces for our postcards and Instant Books, since I design those. (Instant Books are small books folded from a single sheet of paper. They’re so exciting! Have you seen the one we did for Betsy Miller’s Play On Words story “Bees”?) Please see our call for submissions and our flash fiction publishing formats.

 What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love things like Play On Words. I found out about Play On Words because Thinking Ink Press launched the Instant Book of Betsy Miller’s “Bees” at Take Flight when Adam Magill read “Bees.”

And I’ll tell you a secret: When I was revising “Carlina Johansen,” I imagined it being performed, and I made my decisions with performance in mind. Seeing a Play On Words show inspired me to do that.

 Which writers or performers inspire you?

It took me years to figure out that lead roles in Kate & Leopold, X-Men, and The Prestige were all played by the same actor: Hugh Jackman. I saw him in performance at the Curran Theatre, and even though I was in the VERY BACK row of a completely sold out house, the experience was like having coffee one-on-one. Now that’s skill! I aspire to write as well, and as intimately, as Hugh Jackman performs.

As for writers, I’ll mention Julio Cortázar. I read him in Spanish, and he writes like he’s making love to the reader. His command of syntax is insane – he can control you completely just by the structure of his sentences. I don’t know what the English translations are like, but he has a great (flash fiction!) piece called “Continuidad de los parques” (translated as “Continuity of Parks”). One of my favorite longer pieces is “La autopista del sur” (translated as “The Southern Thruway”).

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I read Waiting for Godot in high school, and do I dare say I fell in love? I’ve since seen a few performances, and it always makes me laugh and feel understood, and it leaves me completely obsessed with the text. Even though I haven’t read or seen it for years, little phrases bubble up into my life from time to time: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” “There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.” The funniest part is where Pozzo makes Lucky “think” and Lucky spouts all sorts of repetitive and disjointed but conceptually connected phrases that seem to follow the structure of some sort of a logical argument. Just the rhythm of it is enough to cause uncontrollable giggling. I know there’s a lot of meaning to be found in that speech, but it’s also just plain fun. I’m sure Beckett had a blast writing that part.

Thank you for the opportunity to think about these things I love. I can’t wait to reread the pieces I’ve mentioned here. And I can’t wait to see the next Play On Words!

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newslettertweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

Join Us Tonight in Person…Or On YouTube

The rain might be coming, San Jose, but you know what else is? New Year Nouveau, our first show of 2016. We’re delighted to share our lineup for tonight’s performance, which starts at 7pm at Cafe Stritch:

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ACT ONE:
“Not the Madonna” – Allison Landa, read by Nita Lambert
“Suck it Up” – Tania Martin, read by Ivette Deltoro
“Indra’s Low Sodium-Oxide Streetlights” by Gary Singh, read by Ryan Alpers
“Land of the Thunder Dragon” – Sarah Lyn Rogers, read by Ivette Deltoro
“Van Tribe: Free Medical” – Rick Alpers, read by Brian Van Winkle

“Compassion: the Essence of Nursing” – Lita Kurth, read by Melinda Marks
“A Girl in Pink” – Christine Keating, read by Taylor Sanders, Alex Draa, Brian Van Winkle and Ryan Alpers

INTERMISSION
ACT TWO
“The Night Subway Crawl” – Pratibha Kelapure, read by Taylor Sanders
“Collectibles” – Betsy Miller, read by Melinda Marks
“Neighbor” – Marilyn Horn-Fahey, read by Jeremy Ryan
“The Golden Beauty of Carlina Johansen” – Keiko O’Leary, read by Alex Draa
“Van Tribe: Dudley & Donnie” – Rick Alpers, read by Brian Van Winkle
“End of Time” – Freya Seeburger (Cellista), read by Julia Halprin Jackson and Ryan Alpers
“Fabulous Water Sports” – Roy Proctor, read by Jeremy Ryan and Ryan Alpers
For our online fans and friends around the world, we invite you to tune in to our live-stream channel, provided courtesy of the fabulous online and print magazine South Bay Pulse, at 7pm Pacific Standard Time. Intrigued? It’s easy as one, two, click:
South Bay Pulse  was founded by journalists and graduate students at San Jose State University. Not only do they write great stories–they’ve mastered the art of live-streaming events such as CineQuest, and their YouTube channel hosts all kinds of great content, such as lectures from the Santa Cruz Music Festival, the SubZERO Festival, and interviews with Silicon Valley Artists. We’re delighted to be working with them on New Year Nouveau.
Bottom line: you’ve got no excuse to miss out on all the greatness that is headed your way. We can’t wait to share the work of our writers and artists. Grab a specialty cocktail at Cafe Stritch’s great bar, try out their spicy macaroni and cheese, drop us a few bucks at the door and prepare yourself for New Year Nouveau. See you there.

Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s “Neighbor”

 

At Play On Words, we love it when we meet writers we love who, in turn, introduce us to writers they love. We call it the transitive power of awesomeness. We learned about Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s work through San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, and were delighted to perform a few of her flash fiction pieces last summer at our Words & Music show. We’re delighted to read her piece, “Neighbor,” this Wednesday at New Year Nouveau at Cafe Stretch. We hope you can join us.

Marilyn is a technical editor in Silicon Valley.

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Marilyn Horn-Fahey

Publications, Honors or Awards:

My stories have appeared in Switchback, Fine Linen and Marathon Review, among others. Learn more at marilynhornwriting.com.

Upcoming projects:

Thinking Ink Press will publish a collection of my stories in 2016.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

POW performed two of my stories in July 2015. There’s nothing quite like hearing your words interpreted by others! I’m hooked.

 Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

The War of Art. Anyone who faces resistance when trying to write should read it. Resistance is such a jerk!

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

 

Lita Kurth’s Compassionate Comedy

Lita Kurth

San Jose writers likely already know the lovely Lita Kurth, local writer, teacher and co-creator of the fabulous Flash Fiction Forum. We were delighted to produce her work last summer at Cafe Stritch (if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch Melinda Marks’ reading of “Bride”), and are excited to perform her comic piece, “Compassion: The Essence of Nursing,” January 6 at New Year Nouveau.

Lita Kurth
Lita Kurth

Lita (MFA Pacific Lutheran University) has had work published in Fjords Review, Brain,Child, Main Street Rag, Tikkun, NewVerseNews, Blast Furnace, ellipsis…literature and art, Compose, Redux, Raven Chronicles, Tattoo Highway, Composite Arts, Verbatim Poetry, the Santa Clara Review, Gyroscope Review, Vermont Literary Review, DNA, and others.

Her CNF, “Pivot,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her CNF “This is the Way We Wash the Clothes,” presented at the Working Class Studies conference, 2012, won the 2014 Diana Woods Memorial Award (summer-fall 2014) and appeared in Lunchticket 2014. She contributes to Tikkun.org/tikkundaily, TheReviewReview.net, and classism.org.

In 2013, she co-founded the Flash Fiction Forum, a reading series in San Jose. Learn more about her in this recent profile in the San Jose Metro.

Upcoming projects:

Upcoming on January 13th  is another Flash Fiction Forum, 7 PM Works Gallery in wonderful downtown San Jose!

I also teach private multi-genre workshops and online four-week flash fiction courses–learn more at Lita Kurth Writing Workshops.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I loved the idea as soon as I heard about it. Such fun to see another creative person bring a piece to life that I’ve written.

 Which writers or performers inspire you? 

Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce. Just kidding, sort of. My inspirations are too numerous to list but a sampling includes the Rachel Field poetry of childhood, Robert Louis Stevenson, Tolstory, Flaubert, Irish writer Jamie O’Neill, E. Annie Proulx, and Zadie Smith.

Adam Magill Reads “Bees”

If you’ve ever taken a writing class, you know what a writer’s workshop can be like. Betsy Miller‘s “Bees” takes an unusual and fascinating approach on the teenage writing workshop. Play On Words regular Adam Magill brought layers of subtlety to this piece June 3 at Cafe Stritch. In case you missed it:

Betsy Miller is one of the co-founders of Thinking Ink Press, a small independent press. She is currently working on a children’s picture book, Brooklynn Bunny’s Super Boots, and on a young adult novel called Dance, Interrupted.