Something special is happening in the Central Valley. Every other week I get together with a band of dreamers and help craft other worlds. This is a small, friendly, well-intentioned group that wants its individual members to succeed. We are the Fresno Sci-fi & Fantasy Writers (though some of our members reside in Visalia, LA, Utah and even Taiwan). Some of our works are self-published, and others, like those in the Write 1/Submit 1 Challenge, are sent out to well known science-fiction and fantasy magazines and publishing houses in hopes of traditional publication. In any case, it may be months or years before these works receive acknowledgement. That is why being a part of a writing group is so important, and why Open Mic Night is just so if not more so.

Though we are readers, we are writers and over the course of a year or more of reading one another’s works, we can develop biases and preconceptions within our group, but when we get to take one of our works and read it to a crowd, we not only get the thrill of receiving immediate responses such as laughter, gasps or applause, we can also glean what might not work via the lack of an expected response, or we might stumble over a phrase we thought sounded fine in our heads or catch something we hadn’t ever noticed before, good or ill, because the audience does.

And not to mention the moments after a reading, chatting with the audience afterwards to get their opinions. For the most part they will be polite, or you’ll enjoy the rush of someone telling you what they really like or what a piece meant to them or recalled in their own lives. Or, someone may let you know what maybe didn’t work for them or point out a discrepancy or plot hole–don’t be so quick to disregard these comments. You may have just read an excerpt of a much larger work where such holes are plugged, but they just might have a point.

I think I’m rambling a bit now. I mostly wanted to express my sincere gratitude that I am a part of such a wonderful writing group and that we have such a wonderful place to share our stuff with the public and that I hope our audiences continue to grow and that Fresno and Clovis and the surrounding areas cherish the local talents and merchants they have.

Thank you again, Peggy and Dan and the rest of the folks at the Clovis Book Barn, and we can’t wait to do it again next month!

* * *

Open Mic Night Recap

What a night! We opened up with a killer piece of gothic poetry by my roleplay gaming pal, Ryan Laburada, “A Visit from St. Gothiness,” which he found over at It’s a gothic version of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more popularly known as T’was the Night Before Christmas and attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. Christmas may have passed, but the spirit lives on.

Ryan Laburada kicks off the evening with a Visit from St. Gothiness

Mellie Smith gave us a couple of sneak peeks of her works in progress. The first was from a novel tentatively titled Danae, which begins with a young girl being inexplicably thrown out of a ship into a dark, stormy sea. Her second piece was from our upcoming antho with an excerpt from The Right Honorable Line of Woadsbury, wherein a knight and a bewitching lady are caught in a mystical bond of love. (In case you’re wondering, I’m describing the excerpts here, not the whole works.)

Mellie’s lovely husband Ed Smith (and yes, that’s how I introduced him that night), also gave us a Woadsbury sneak peek with an excerpt out of Guardian at the Gate, concerning a man who goes back to the 13th century and decides to guard it from those who might follow him.

Roh Morgon gave us a taste of Breaking Through, and which involved blood suckers and shape shifters and a dragon! Can’t wait to see more of this! Her second piece of the evening was from Monster, a prequel to Watcher: Book 1 of The Chosen, and gave us an unsettling glimpse at how the premise of Watcher came to be.

Roh Morgon reads from Breaking Through

I followed Roh’s first piece up with Forsaken Star’s Azzi’s “Astronaut Vampire’s Lament,” and then later, provided a glimpse into my other universe, Spiral Legion, with an excerpt from Ko maua la moana male ‘ana (Our Ocean Wedding Day), a work-in-progress about a mermaid (sci-fi version, genetically enhanced) Anjaneia, and Derrick, a Coast Guardsman on the happiest and possibly scariest day of their lives. The excerpt included an undersea rescue and Anjaneia’s nightmare about their coming nuptials. I even provided a visual aid–my design of Anjaneia’s wedding dress.

Anjaneia's wedding dress design from my story Our Ocean Wedding Day

Don Gilbert served as our ‘main attraction’ if you will, by providing us a full reading of his exciting sci-fi short Deeds Committed in a Prior State of Existence. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the story for one of our review meetings, but hearing him tell it was a special treat! The story involves the creator of Time In A Bottle, a service that will transport you back to a favorite moment in your life, and a man who would rather go back in time to stop a rather painful event in his life–the meeting of his parents!

Alisha Vargas read an excerpt from the biographical novel Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy, chronicling his misadventures at a major record label. The excerpt covered Dan’s first day, deciding which muffin to take from the breakfast table, and trying not to poke fun at Fat Joe, realizing that he’s not much different than the gangsta rapper.

Alisha Vargas reads from Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy

Earl Scialabba gave us a couple of rollicking excerpts from his upcoming sci-fi novel Mall Planet, which included a fight by a cliffside and a space battle. I was particularly tickled by the idea of a Jetta in space firing phasers. More, please!

Earl Scialabba reads from his upcoming sci-fi novel Mall Planet

The evening ended with a nice round of creepies. Sarah Peterson provided us with a short short story titled The Cheat, about a person who cheats death. Tirzah Duncan regaled us with a poem written in honor of the day (Friday the 13th) titled The Thirteenth Chime, as well as a flash fiction piece titled Upheld. Ryan Laburada brought us full circle with a horror short titled Room for One More from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Collected from American Folklore by Alvin Schwartz.

Tirzah Duncan reads The Thirteenth Chime in honor of Friday the 13th

It should also be noted that Christopher “töff” Wood received a certificate and print for Naming the FSFW Mascot. She is hereby known as “Scritch.” As a side note, töff also went ahead and named Scritch’s trout dinner “Scamp.” Please visit the FSFW facebook page for more!

Ali, Sarah and Sam enjoy Open Mic from the comfort of a couch corner!

After the Open Mic Night

A few of us went to Carrow’s afterwards and talked about the evening, our works and the upcoming anthology. A good time was had by all, but we knew we had to cut the night short because the following day we would gather again to discuss the anthology in earnest.

Mellie, Earl and Ed discuss Woadsbury...or Earl's apartment?

Ali and I enjoy the afterglow of another successful Open Mic Night

* * *

Saturday 14, 2012: A Woadsbury Day

Half of our Woadsbury writers couldn’t make it–work, opera rehearsals, outings to the coast–but we forged ahead and hammered out some of the more confounding details, kinks and obstacles for our upcoming anthology from the stories of those in attendance: Töff, Roh, Earl, Tirzah, and myself, and our gracious hosts for the day, Ed and Mellie. Also in attendance were Ali, one of our tireless editors, Sarah, a fellow FSFWer, and Ninja, the Smith’s cat, an adorable distraction.  Mellie made a delicious chili, a Spritely Juice drink and cookies, and Sarah made PB&J finger sandwiches. I brought tons of reference material and finally sketched out my Beastly Baron (with his new name, Blaez) and his Beauty, the fairy Aille. We even talked about some of the stories of some of the folks that couldn’t make it so that we could get an overview of where the overall anthology is going. It turned out to be a pretty productive meeting.

A Woadsbury meeting at Ed's and Mellie's

Tirzah tries to make a point while Mellie mulls another.

An Ed's eye view of the meeting.

Now it’s Sunday, and I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve got to finish reviewing Tirzah’s story, I’ve got to finish my Ocean Wedding Day story, and get to work on posting a new page of Forsaken Stars!

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