One of our Albuquerque DimeStoriers passed away on January 25, 2016. Mopsy had become a semi-regular attendee (in between her international travels) at our monthly open mic events and a couple of her stories had been selected as a Best Of. Mopsy had also been attending my Monday Writers drop-in group. I hadn’t seen her in a while, and when she didn’t reply to the invitation to participate in the Anniversary Showcase event for this year, I emailed a follow up, assuming she was on another adventure.
Select the proper piece of PROSE. It should be a story 500 words—or less. Really, you don’t have to use all three minutes. Nothing wrong with leaving your audience wanting more…. Edit with a razor. Look at every word. Does it belong? Does it contribute to the meaning? Is there a strong narrative voice? Vivid imagery? Practice reading your work out loud. Can you read it (without rushing) in three minutes? If not, go back and cut more words out.
Stand up straight. Seriously, this is important as it will allow you to breathe better utilizing your diaphragm to its fullest potential.
Breathe. Don’t forget to breath. Besides being really embarrassing to pass out from lack of oxygen, if you breathe throughout your piece, you’ll avoid those awkward gasps between paragraphs.
Know the microphone. Generally you’ll want to be about 6 to 12 inches away and slightly off to the side, but some microphones require you to be right up front and close. If there is no microphone, make sure you project your voice—this is where standing up straight and breathing will come in handy.
Speak slowly, clearly, and vary your tone and rhythm. This will create interest, and allow your audience time to process what you’re saying. Pause. Create a space for your listener to visualize.
Look up. Your audience wants to see more than the top of your head! Make eye contact. Smile….
Don’t be THAT reader, the one who reads and leaves, or the one who shows up only to promote their latest book. Instead, be a good community member, one who respects fellow DimeStoriers and listens to their stories. And even though as writers, we are mostly a bit socially awkward, take a chance– be the one who hangs around and welcomes new folks.
San Diego DimeStories took place on a cold and rainy night the 2nd Friday in December at the home of San Diego Writers Ink down in Liberty Station— you’ll hear the planes landing at nearby Lindbergh Field in the recordings… but the sound of those planes didn’t stop the readers from sharing their stories. The Best Ofs include:
Lawrence Johnson, “The 3rd Floor”
Cheryl Sonstein, “Confessions of a Caregiver”
David Latham “I Sorry So Sorry”
Brad Davidson’s “Merry 4th of July” was a crowd favorite, and though it went over by 15 seconds! we’re posting it anyway in the spirit of the holiday season:
There were so many good stories in Orange County (every 2nd Sunday of the month! at LCA Wine) that they couldn’t select only three!
Niina Satola, “An Open Letter to the Wasp Trapped on the 71v”
Pam Tallman, “A Christmas Gift”
Louis Rodriguez, “The Trustifarian”
Anna Yamamuro, “The Tree”
And on a cold night in Albuquerque ( winter does come to the Duke City–it’s not Phoenix!) we gathered at The Source for hot wassail, tamales, and various goodies to share stories. The Best Ofs included:
Location: The Ink Spot, 2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16, Suite 204, San Diego, CA
Cost: $5 donation at the door is requested… and if you’d like to contribute a little extra towards food and wine, that’s much appreciated!
Albuquerque, NM: Thursday, November 17, 7pm
Location: The Source, 1111 Carlisle Ave SE (in the same compound where the original Michael Thomas Coffee is located, one mile south of Central)
Costa Mesa, CA: Sunday, December 13, 5pm
Location: LCA Wine, 3315 Hyland Ave., Ste. H , Costa Mesa, CA
The DimeStories open mic series has been going strong since 2004 in San Diego, an additional chapter opened in Orange County a couple years later, and one in Albuquerque in 2010. DimeStories have been heard in New York, in L.A. at the LA Times Book Fair, and on the the radio.
It takes many small things to make something big. Fifty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Emma Bolden, Ron Carlson, Kelly Cherry, Stuart Dybek, Blake Kimzey, Roland Leach, Bobbie Ann Mason, Diane Williams, and Hiromi Kawakami—have made the debut of The Best Small Fictions 2015 something significant, something worthwhile, and something necessary. Featuring spotlights on Pleiades journal and Michael Martone, this international volume—with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler serving as guest editor and award-winning editor Tara L. Masih as series editor—is a celebration of the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words.