Category Archives: Events

Join me for SCREAMS OF AUTUMN Halloween afternoon!

Screams of Autumn Night of Scary Stories

Looking for a short, sweet thing to kick off this very unusual Halloween?

Join me on Halloween, Saturday October 31, at 2 pm at Brookfield Theatre for the Arts in Brookfield, CT as I present a perennial favorite (Poe’s “The Raven”—not really read by women too often), a forgotten classic (Julius W. Long’s “The Pale Man”), and one of my own: “Screams of Autumn,” which was published back in 2010 in the online lit mag, Spilt Milk.

The event is FREE and is OUTDOORS! SOCIAL DISTANCING AND MASKS ARE REQUIRED. Bring your own chair (there will be markings on the parking lot pavement), dress warmly, and bring blankets if you wish. Goody bags for everyone in attendance will include a bonus, never-before-published short story that I just wrote this summer.

The show should last about 45 minutes to an hour. So come on, kick back for a bit, and get your scare on! The theatre is located at 184 Whisconier Road, Brookfield, CT. More information and RSVP to BrookfieldTheatreCT@gmail.com

Writing in the Time of Weirdness: How to Focus in Chaos

Bad Omen Bird

Creating art—any kind of art—demands two things: time, and focus. Right now, time, for many of us, is no longer a factor. We’re working from home or in half-empty offices where no one is calling, there aren’t any social obligations (except virtually), activities and trips are cancelled, and we’re not spending hours in the car commuting or running errands. If not all the time in the world to write, we at least have more than we did before. But what I’m hearing from many of my writing friends is this: “I’m like that guy in the Twilight Zone episode who finally had all that time to read … and his glasses broke.”

Why?

Because right now, there is no routine, no stability, no telling what the hell is going to happen tomorrow, and no hope of it ending any time soon. Anxiety, even in those who aren’t chronic sufferers, is taking over. For artists of any kind who need to have stability in the rest of their lives to create, it’s debilitating.

But there are some things writers can do to get themselves back on track.

I grew up in a completely destabilized household. Between the ages of 8 and 18, I lived my daily life at the level of anxiety, dread of the scary unknown, intense worry, and constant distraction that most “normal” people are feeling now. While my mother was dying of cancer—and then following her passing—I would come home from school every day, stand at the bottom of the porch steps, and think, What fresh hell is going to be beyond that door today? Death, contagious illness, cancelled activities because of whatever was going on, lack of food, a giant mess the kids made, the news that we had to go to Yale New Haven and sit in waiting rooms for a week, we were leaving our church and going to a different one, your brother burned down the woods again and is in jail—there was no routine. Not ever. That was my daily life. I’d wake up and have absolutely no idea what was going to happen to me or those I loved. Quite frankly, the only thing I could count on was the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

As C-19 began to spin out of control, I was, at first, in the same boat as everyone else—unfocused and crippled by the terrifying uncertainty. Then, one afternoon, I suddenly recognized what I was feeling—and it was familiar. I realized that I was uniquely qualified to keep focused and working when others couldn’t. I said, “Holy s***. I’ve been here before! I got this!” After all, despite all of that, I graduated from high school with fantastic grades, participated successfully in several after-school activities, kept up my personal hygiene and always looked put together, and managed to not only write, but complete many creative projects.

How did I do it?

I learned how to shut everything down.

If you’re a writer, I hope these tips on how to get back to work will help you. We are the chroniclers of these extraordinary happenings, the people who will tell the tales of what this was like to live through it, the people who will tell the first-person stories of the nurses, doctors, truck drivers, and others on the front lines while the rest of us were quarantined, the people who will share the stories of tragic loss and heartbreak. Our fiction, drama, poetry, and creative nonfiction will, one day, provide a snapshot of this historic event on a personal, emotional level. Honestly? Some really f***** good work is going to come out of this, whether it is actually about this situation or not.

TIPS

1 Find, or make—yes, even if your home life is now disrupted by children—the time to go into your writing office each day (if possible) and shut the door. Light a candle, put on your music, whatever it is that you normally do, as though the world isn’t losing its mind. Think of the closed door as that barrier between you and chaos. Whatever is going on beyond it? Not your problem until you emerge. You see, hear, smell, and are distracted by nothing while you are behind your door. If your “office” is in a shared space in your home, then make a temporary place in a closet, laundry room, or wherever. But it should have a door that closes. That part is very important. Also, tell the people in your household you cannot be disturbed for the hour. There is nothing that could happen in an hour—short of burning the house down or someone getting sick or bleeding to death—that they can’t handle. It can wait.

2 Set a designated time to watch the news or get C-19 updates, but don’t be checking all day long. I was writing in the early 1980s, and we didn’t have the Internet, but man, did we have TVs in every room and Atari video game systems, and believe me, it was just as tempting. This is an upsetting thing to watch unfold. Just step away from it—twice a day for ten minutes is enough to get the important things you need to know. It’s not necessary for it to be in your face every waking minute.

3 When you talk with your friends on the phone or through video conferencing, don’t dwell on what’s happening in the world. Talk, instead, about anything but: what you’re writing, what you just bought online, how your family is doing—whatever—just NOT the C-word. It’s important to feel as though life is going to carry on as normal, even if, deep down, you know it won’t. Dwelling on it makes it worse. When my mother was sick and I was living in that hell, only a handful of my closest friends knew what was happening at home, and none of us talked about it. When I was with them, when I was at school, I wanted things to feel normal. It kept me functioning and hoping for a brighter future.

4 Indulge in fantasy—check out when you can. That’s right. Sit around and day dream, think about being someplace else, and if you get the urge, write stories in which you’re the main character doing all of those things you wish you could do or being a different version of yourself. Your imagination is a powerful tool. Use it to go live the life you’ve always wanted (when I was 15 I was spending a lot of time with Indiana Jones).

5 When you’re tortured, get it out on paper. You’d be surprised how awesome spewing a bunch of emotional garbage onto a piece of paper or on a blank document makes you feel, and you might even get a story out of it.

6 Step back and realize that this, hopefully, will never happen again in our lifetimes, and watch the drama unfold as though it were not happening to you. This requires an almost disassociation with that of your physical body, but it can be done.

7 Frame the future and know that you’ll feel good again someday. Look at this time as a gift, and know that everything you do now is going to prepare you for something exciting later. Trust that the work you are doing now is important, and make it as much of a priority as you can, even as the world is heaping new demands on you and saying it isn’t. Never give up on your work or your vision of success, and believe that it will happen. All things come to an end—bad things, too.

Special extended TWL episode: Howe was the book signing?

 

I had a blast last week up at Howe Caverns for a signing of my new collection, The Shadows Behind. Rather than put up a bunch of pictures, I decided to do a special extended episode of my This Writing Life series. Enjoy!

 

GET READY FOR AUSTIN’S BAT FEST AUGUST 24!

Me with bat

Me posing with a new friend on the Congress Avenue Bridge at Austin’s Bat Fest, August 23, 2014.

On one of my many sojourns to Austin, Texas, I was lucky enough to attend the annual Bat Fest, which in 2019 will be held Saturday, August 24, from 4 p.m. to midnight on the Congress Avenue Bridge downtown.

What is that, you ask?

Texas is famous for its bat colonies, and the state is home to 32 species. In fact, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Read the rest of this entry

Looking for a quick little getaway? Join me at Howe Caverns this weekend!

I’ll be signing copies of my book The Shadows Behind up at Howe Caverns this Saturday, August 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the main lodge.

Anyone who purchases a copy at the event this weekend will receive a bonus book—Twisted Routes—free! The book contains one special edition and one unpublished piece, set at Howe Caverns and at Paradox Lake (near Fort Ticonderoga, which also figures prominently in the story).

Beyond that, Howe Caverns is a wonderful place to spend a day or an overnight. Aside from the sheer beauty of the property, there are plenty of activities. The 90-minute traditional cave tour features Read the rest of this entry

A trip through time: The Bronx Zoo’s DINOSAUR SAFARI

Dinosaur Safari Green Screen Pic

I think this is hilarious. We’re being chased by a Tyrannosaurus and we look like we’re on a cruise.

I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, because nothing ruins an adventure like knowing every damn little thing about it beforehand (it’s really not an adventure if that’s the case). However, I’m going to include a couple of my favorite photos and share some details, so if you’re planning on visiting the Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari this summer and want to stay completely in the dark, I’d advise skipping the rest of this post (except scroll down to “A word on buying tickets.” That stuff you’ll want to know). Read the rest of this entry

Looking for something different? Try a Water Lantern Festival

Lanterns float in foreground of pavilion

Photo by Jen Connic.

For hundreds of years, there have been lantern festivals in Thailand. There are two, but the one that features krathongs (water lanterns)—is called Loi Krathong, which in 2019 will take place November 13. There are many stories behind the centuries-old festival’s origins, but it’s meant to thank the Water Goddess for a successful rice harvest (read more about that here: https://www.discoverydcode.com/dcode/articles/how-to-enjoy-thailand-water-latern-festival/)

Lanterns around the lake

Just so you can get an idea of how many lanterns were around the edge of the lake. Photo by Nathan Schoonover.

Here in the US, many set water lanterns afloat for Read the rest of this entry

Join the DARK DISCUSSIONS crew in Mystic, CT, July 26 – 28!

DD at Regal Cinemas Waterford 9

The crew and fans of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast get ready to see THE MEG at the Regal Cinemas Waterford 9 in Waterford, CT at our annual meet-up in August of 2018. From left: co-host Abe, listener Kevin, listener Leo Pond (also host of THE DORKENING podcast), co-host Eric, co-host Phil, me, listener Pam and co-host Mike.

Wanna watch a movie and attend a taping of Dark Discussions? Now’s your chance! Read the rest of this entry

Photos from THE SHADOWS BEHIND release party

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to celebrate the release of my short story collection, The Shadows Behind, with a party at my house. Here are photos from the event!

SETTING UP

THE CAKE Read the rest of this entry

My Odyssey with 2001; see it in IMAX through November 11!

2001 50th anniversary Film Poster

I wasn’t born yet when Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey changed the world, but thanks to the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, I was able to experience what it must have been like to be there—and I even got to meet the film’s star, Keir Dullea!

Kristi in Front of IMAX

Me, outside the IMAX theater entrance at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

When my housemate, Charles, heard this was coming, he was excited…not that he hadn’t already been to a few showings in New York and elsewhere this year already. But it is a film that had a profound affect on him. He saw it multiple times when it opened in 1968, and he not only has the program that he bought the first time he went to see the film, he has other ephemera as well. And there was also something special about this presentation in particular.

IMAX ad placard

When 2001: A Space Odyssey opened in 1968, it was shown in 70 mm Cinerama. I’m no film history expert, but Cinerama in the late 1960s was shown on a large, curved screen and is considered a lynch pin in the development of the widescreen format we have today (if you’d like to know more about this, visit here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/movies/long-before-imax-the-curious-tale-of-cinerama.html)

As far as I know, the MA’s presentation may be one of the closest anyone will get to experiencing the movie the way it was intended: Read the rest of this entry

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