Archive for September, 2017

Featured Author/Editor: Christi Craig

On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories.

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason.

Christi Craig

RTW: What inspired you to write? 

CHRISTI: I admit, jealousy inspired me in the beginning. Upset that a friend of mine had the money, the time, and a nanny to quit work for a year and pursue her writing, I complained to another friend, over and over, about the unfairness of it all. Finally, that friend sighed and said, “Why don’t you just start writing.”

Oh. Okay. Sometimes starting is the hardest part.

Now, I’m inspired by people, places, and things. By my grandmother, who raised nine children on a Depression budget in a small Texas town. By old empty buildings and cemeteries. By lines of poetry, like this from Patrick Phillips’ “Elegy for a Broken Machine:”

even the silence, / if you listened, / meant something.

In one of my favorite books, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says:

[C]reativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the sense for it; we have the curiosity for it…we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to the divinity for it. If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.

We are creatures who seek out story, because we are creatures built on story; they settle in and around us all the time. If you’re paying attention, inspiration is everywhere.

 

RTW: How important is it to you that your friends, your partner, your family members read and like your writing?

CHRISTI: Majorly! Except…. While I want my friends, my sisters, my husband to read and love my work, looking for affirmation of this kind from those in my immediate circles can be dangerous. So often, we want people closest to us to be our biggest fans. And they are in many ways. But when we hand them our work to read, the response we get isn’t usually the response we want.

People who know me personally, or intimately, have certain expectations based on the “me” they see every day (not the characters in my fiction). A friend at work once told me that I have a great sense of humor. Then, she read a short story of mine about a young woman who dressed bodies in a funeral home. She laughed, a bit nervous, and said she liked it. But we don’t talk much about my writing anymore. My husband knows my tendency to be a worse-case-scenario kind of person. I don’t think he expects me to hand him anything light-hearted. But when I asked him to read a collection of pieces about characters looking for redemption, for solace, for relief, he gave them back and said, “Some of them don’t seem finished. Some of them are weird.” I have yet to ask my sisters what they really think.

So that question—how important is it that they love our writing?—might need a quick edit: how important is it that they love us as a writer?

That’s easy: very important. My husband and I don’t like the same movies. Why would we enjoy reading the same stories? Even so, he applauds my successes, encourages my attempts, reminds me on the bad days that pursuing my passion is a good thing. And that Is priceless.

 

Christi Craig works as a sign language interpreter by day and moonlights as a writer, teacher, and editor. She was part of the novel acquisitions team during the 2016 submissions call for Forest Avenue Press and served as an Assistant Editor at Compose Literary Journal, as well as an Associate Editor for Noble / Gas Quarterly. Her own stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters Competition, 2010. Visit her website at christicraig.com.

 

Follow these links to learn more about: Renaissance Theaterworks, SEX WITH STRANGERS, Wisconsin Romance Writers.

 

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Featured Author/Editor: Kathy Lanzarotti

On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories.

 

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason.

Kathy Lanzarotti

Done Darkness: A collection of stories, poetry, and essays about life beyond sadness is an anthology about the triumph of hope over hopelessness for those with depression or other mental illness. These narratives, from multiple award-winning authors, reflect the daily battle with various forms of depression: clinical, postpartum, and reactive, just to name a few. Real life plays out on the pages, depicting empty nests, grief, missing children, contemplating suicide, postpartum anxiety and more. Readers will connect, think, laugh, and maybe shed a sympathetic tear while gaining a better understanding of their own experiences or perhaps of a loved one.

RTW: What inspired you to write? What kinds of fiction genres do you like reading?

Kathy: I was a quiet kid which meant I spent a lot of time observing and I noticed all of these little dramas unfolding around me and they got more interesting as I got older. These little everyday stories are the stuff of literary fiction which is my preference, although I also love horror and spy novels.

RTW: What would it mean to you to see your book for sale in an airport terminal shop?

Kathy: I think that seeing my book out in the wild would mean that it was an official book, one worthy of reaching the masses. But, as authors, we do what we can. I must confess that I have on more than one occasion slid a copy of Done Darkness into a hotel bookshelf, and there is a copy currently floating around France on a river boat.

Kathy Lanzarotti is the co-editor of the anthology Done Darkness. Her work has appeared in Creative Wisconsin and (b)OINK zine. She is a WRWA Jade Ring Award winner for short fiction.

Follow these links to learn more about: Renaissance Theaterworks, SEX WITH STRANGERS, Wisconsin Romance Writers.

 

 

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Featured Author/Editor: Lisa Rivero

On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories.

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERSZ by Laura Eason.

Lisa Rivero

RTW: Can you describe your current book? What genre is it? What do you like about that genre? And what other kinds of writing do you do?

LISA: Recently I co-edited (with Christi Craig) and published an anthology of creative nonfiction, essays, and found poetry titled Family Stories from the Attic. Collaborating with Christi, who did the bulk of the editing, was a dream, and we both were fortunate to work with twenty-two generous, talented authors from around the United States and New Zealand. The book’s concept was to showcase writing as a way to understand more fully our personal and collective pasts, by writing about objects such as diaries, letters, photographs, notebooks—even a set of family silver. Given the diversity of approaches and backgrounds of the submissions we accepted, we were delightfully surprised at how well the collection held together as a whole.

In addition to publishing, I have written non-fiction books, essays, articles, and fiction, and I’m currently doing a kind of (later than) mid-life pivot to focus on writing speculative fiction and poetry.

 

RTW: What inspired you to write? What kinds of fiction genres do you like reading?

LISA: For as long as I can remember, I knew I would be a writer, even when I was making my own childhood poetry chapbooks on construction paper, tied together with yarn. Over the years, that persistent beacon has taken several forms, from being a journalism and then English major, to technical writing, teaching composition to budding engineers, writing a food and wellness column, and writing about psychological topics. I love to read almost anything (including old-fashioned hard cover encyclopedias), but really enjoy quirky authors, such as George Saunders, Flannery O’Connor, and Haruki Murakami, as well as science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and all stories and novels that offer a glimpse into parts of the universe—real or imagined—that I previously did not know.

 

RTW: Have you ever been tempted to use initials to disguise your gender as a writer?

LISA: As I’m making the transition to trying my hand at more speculative fiction, I’ve thought about using initials or a gender-neutral pseudonym, as that’s a genre does seem to experience some gender-bias, and also to make a more defined transition from one aspect of my writing career to another. Right now, however, I’m leaning towards using my real name, whether from laziness or principle.

Lisa Rivero is the co-editor (with Christi Craig) and publisher of Family Stories from the Attic (Hidden Timber Books), an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Lisa has written professionally for over two decades and taught college writing and creative thinking courses at the Milwaukee School of Engineering for many years. The author of four non-fiction books, a middle-grade historical novel, and several articles and essays, she is currently focusing on writing poetry and speculative fiction.

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Featured Author: Pam Parker

On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories.

 

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason.

Pam Parker

RTW: Can you describe your current book? What genre is it? What do you like about that genre? And what other kinds of writing do you do?

PAM: The book, DONE DARKNESS, is an anthology, a collection of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. I like anthologies for the variety of the writing, but understand it’s not a high-sales genre. Within the anthology, my piece is an essay, which I also performed as an audio essay on Lake Effect on Milwaukee Public Radio, WUWM. In addition to essays and creative nonfiction, I have also published short fiction, including excerpts from my novel, which is not yet published.

 

RTW: What inspired you to write? What kinds of fiction genres do you like reading?

PAM: I’ve written, and read, for most of my life. My first diary, when I was nine years old, was a small one with a lock and psychedelic flowers in pinks and yellows on the cover (very 1969). Throughout my school years, I enjoyed writing for myself and for school. My teachers often read my essays and stories aloud to my classes. I was shy then and while this embarrassed me, it also helped me gain some confidence about my writing. So, though I write often, I didn’t think of myself as a writer until my early forties when I left teaching due to illness.

My favorite fiction genre to read in is literary fiction. I adore the slower pace and character-driven stories of Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth Strout and Kent Haruf.

 

RTW: How heavily does “New York Times Best Seller” weigh in an author’s favor? Will that sell books? Make your book legitimate? Make you a legitimate author?

PAM: Being on the NYT Best Seller list of course weighs in an author’s favor as that placement does affect many readers’ choices and some book clubs. Obviously, it helps sell books. I don’t consult the NYT list as I’m more interested in word-of-mouth and Goodreads reviews for determining what I will read. I don’t think landing on the prized list bears any weight on a book or an author’s legitimacy. An author is a creator, an artist, and awards, prizes or lists can enhance an author’s reputation, but legitimacy? I don’t think so. If an author has had a publication, which was vetted, meaning chosen and selected from among other submissions by a reputable publisher, then said author is legitimate in my opinion.

 

Pam Parker is a New England native who calls suburban Milwaukee, WI home. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications and has been featured on WUWM, a Wisconsin Public Radio Affiliate. She co-edited the anthology, DONE DARKNESS, about surviving depression. She tries to chip away at the stigma of mental illness by being open about her personal struggles. She has received awards from the WI Broadcasting Association, the WI Writers Association and the WI Academy of Arts, Sciences & Letters. Learn more about Pam and her work at pamwrites.net.

Follow these links to learn more about: Renaissance Theaterworks, SEX WITH STRANGERS, Wisconsin Romance Writers.

 

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Featured Author: Mel Miskimen

On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories. 

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason.

Mel Miskimen

RTW: Congratulations on Sit. Stay. Heal. Can you tell us a little about your next book?

Mel: My current book is a memoir about two of the most frustrating / fulfilling relationships in my life: spouse and house. How did I come to accept both of their flaws? What did it take for me to realize what true love is?

Back in the 1980s, every Thursday night, Bob Vila et. al., kept us on the edges of our thrift store sofa cushions. Could that house be saved? Could Norm Abrams bring that woodwork back from the dead? When the time came for us to buy a house that’s what we’d do! It all looked so easy sitting there, slurping ramen noodles from our mismatched Melamine bowls. With the ink still wet on our marriage license (I proposed 8 hours after we had met) we bought a 120 year old fallen woman of a Queen Ann in a seen-better-days part of the city.

The honeymoon phase was full of hope. Promise. We’d knock down walls! Put in a new kitchen! Granite countertops! A master bath! But, then, reality. Money woes. Children came. Colic. Sleep deprivation. Day care trumped tile. Vacations were spent wiring and plumbing. A new car became a new boiler. He snored. Her single pane, double hung windows rattled. He developed a paunch. She developed rot. His hair thinned. Her paint peeled. He worked a lot. She needed work. A lot.

This is a story of a house and my relationship with it. It’s a story of a marriage. How both changed me. For the better? How I went from hope to despair, to acceptance, to deep love and awe abiding respect.

 

RTW: Talk a little about being a woman writer who is funny.

Mel: I didn’t know what to do with ‘funny.’ I learned the hard way to internalize the obvious answer to open-ended questions like, “Who can tell me why there are 3 persons in 1 God?” Sister Mary Gregory did not appreciate my diagnosis of a supreme being with a multiple personality disorder. I had to wash the chalk off of so many blackboards I developed ‘white lung.’

In high school, if I wanted to get a date to prom, I had to closet my quips and one-liners. Do you know how hard it was to stifle snark when a date shows up in a tuxedo with awning striped bell bottoms, a ruffled shirt and a jacket with bat-wing lapels? Perhaps that is the reason for my acid reflux.

I came out as funny in the late 1980s. Briefly attempted stand up comedy. I wasn’t bad. I’d like to think I could have made a go at it, but, I chose instead to stay married, somewhat sane, raise children and have a ‘real’ job. So . . . writing. But, what? The outlets seemed limited. It seemed like there was only room for one Nora Ephron and Anne Lamott. Everyone else? Sorry. Funny Women Need Not Apply. Then came the Internet. Opportunity. I’m still hoping for Kristen Wiig to call. To collaborate with Roz Chast. If anyone knows anyone who knows someone . . . like my mother always said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”

Mel Miskimen is an award winning Wisconsin writer whose works have appeared in the Huffington Post and on public radio. She was a cast member of Listen To Your Mother in 2014 and 2017.

Her book, Sit. Stay. Heal: How An Underachieving Labrador Won Our Hearts and Brought Us Together, (Sourcebooks 2016) is available at Boswell Books, select Target stores, Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobel.com. It was called a ‘must read,’ by Modern Dog magazine. The book was featured on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter a Day program in May of 2017.

She lives in Milwaukee with her husband Mark and dog Seamus in their 130 year old, drafty, empty nest they have been in the process of restoring for over 33 years. Of course, she’s writing a book about it. You can find her website: www.melmiskimen.com and follow her on Twitter: @mmiskimen.

 

Follow these links to learn more about: Renaissance Theaterworks, SEX WITH STRANGERS, Wisconsin Romance Writers.

 

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Featured Author: Cari Taylor-Carlson

On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories. 

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason.

Cari Taylor-Carson

First, a little bit about her book: Life on the Loose, a memoir, takes a suburban Mom with four teenagers on her journey of discovery. After she founded Venture West, an outdoor adventure travel business, she led week-long tours from canyons in Utah, to mountains to Montana, to Kathmandu. In the book, she writes of the learning curve she encountered as she traveled the world with her trusting customers close behind. She stumbled a few times and holds nothing back as she details the lessons she learned on the job. In the end, Taylor-Carlson gained both competence and confidence in her role as an outdoor guide

RTW: Cari, have you ever gotten a bad review?

Cari: I have received only positive reviews for Life on the Loose, however, as the Dining Critic for Urban Milwaukee, I have been called an unprofessional, passive-aggressive, nitpicking, racist hack, just not all in the same sentence. In my opinion, writers who put their work in to the public domain need a thick skin. It’s a process. Negative reviews hurt, especially when they attack the reviewer, not the review. When I receive a negative review, I question my worth as a writer, but have learned to carry on because writing is my passion.

RTW: Is having your latest novel optioned for a movie something that interests you?

Cari: If Reese Witherspoon wants to play me, I won’t turn her away. Unlike “Wild,” shot in the American west, Witherspoon would be able to travel the world as my doppelganger in Life on the Loose. Of course, I would be happy to join her and her Hollywood crew as an advisor to make sure they keep it real.

Cari Taylor-Carlson ran her own business, Venture West-guided outdoor adventures, for 32 years and founded the Milwaukee Walking and Eating Society. A former environmental educator at Schlitz Audubon Society and Boerner Botanical Gardens, Taylor-Carlson is now best known as a food writer. She is the author of several books on Milwaukee’s dining scene including Milwaukee Eats, Milwaukee’s Best Cheap Eats, and The Food Lover’s Guide to Milwaukee. She has written for many publications including Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Trails, Silent Sports Magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, and M Magazine. She is a regular contributor to WUWM’s “Lake Effect” and curently reviews restaurants for Urban Milwaukee and Riverwest Currents.

To learn more, visit her website lifeontheloose.com.

 

Follow these links to learn more about: Renaissance Theaterworks, SEX WITH STRANGERS, Wisconsin Romance Writers.

 

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