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The Brighton Readings: Part Two

November 10th, 2013

Notes to a Science Fiction WriterLong ago, when I was first entertaining notions of sharing my stories with a wide audience, I came across a passage in Ben Bova’s Notes to a Science Fiction Writer. It describes a photograph that he saw in a book titled The Faces of Man. Bova writes:

[The photograph] shows an African village, where most of the people have gathered around an old, withered man who is evidently the village story-teller. He is at a high point in the evening’s story; his arms are raised over his head, his mouth is agape, his eyes wide. And the whole village is staring at him, equally agape and wide-eyed, breathless to find out what happens next.

That is what story-telling is all about.

I’ve read a lot of books about writing since then, but that passage has always stuck with me.

StorytellerThe act of presenting stories from memory is nothing new. It is clearly working for the storyteller in the photograph, and I believe it can still work today. Not as a stunt, but as an effective way of sharing fiction with a live audience.

Recently, I’ve been exploring this mode of storytelling in venues as varied as the KGB Fantastic Fiction Series, GenCon Writers Symposium, PAISTA, The University of Brighton, and World Fantasy. The approach seems to be working. In any event, I’m having a lot of fun following in the tradition of that African storyteller.

Let me show you what I’m talking about.

Below is a video from last week’s Reading Café at The World Fantasy Convention, featuring a reading of “Step on a Crack” from Visions: Short Fantasy and SF. It’s one of three stories I presented that day. The entire performance was recorded, and I may be posting additional segments in the coming weeks, but, for now, here’s a peek at what went down when some members of the World Fantasy village gathered to listen to the 21st-Century Scop.

Lawrence C. Connolly reads Step on a Crack from Lawrence Connolly on Vimeo.

Image Credits:
Notes to a Science Fiction Writer by Ben Bova, Charles Schribner’s Sons.
The Kalahari Storyteller,
Life Magazine, 1947.

Have Stories: Will Travel

October 27th, 2013

The Scop Road to BrightonContinuing the tradition of the traveling bard, the 21st Century Scop will be hitting the road this week, heading off to England to give readings at the University of Brighton on Wednesday, October 30 (5:30 PM), and then at the World Fantasy Convention’s Reading Café on Saturday, November 2 (12:30 PM). If you’re going to be in the area, I’ll hope to see you there.

Naturally, I also plan to spend time networking with colleagues at both the University and World Fantasy, taking part in the oldest form of social media – face to face contact.  We are creatures of nuance, and much of what we have to teach to and learn from one another comes across best in real conversation.

It’s the same with story performance, during which skilled readers pick up queues from their listeners and adjust their deliveries accordingly. Therein lies the quality that sets live readings apart from any other story deliver system. When storyteller and audience share the same physical space, magic happens.

Raw Dog Book Route: (A) Michael Arnzen at CMU. (B) Stephanie Wytovich at Big Idea. (C) Matt Betts at Muse Stand. (D) Heidi Ruby Miller at Bradley Books. E) Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s.

I had a chance to watch this in action last weekend, when Raw Dog Screaming Press unleashed five of their top writers on Pittsburgh, sending them out to present a series of readings at five different bookstores: Michael A. Arnzen at the CMU Bookstore, Stephanie Wytovich at The Big Idea Bookstore, Matt Betts at The Muse Stand, Heidi Ruby Miller at Station Square, and Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s Used Books. The readings started at 1:00 and continued until 6:00, following a course of some dozen miles.

I caught the last session at Eljay’s, where I settled into the front row while rain hammered the storefront window. Outside it was gray and cold, traffic racing by in a haze on West Liberty Avenue. But inside it was warm and cozy. The perfect atmosphere for a reading.

Jason Jack MillerJason shared a couple of excerpts from the Revelations of Preston Black, engaging the audience with his folksy just-friends-shooting-the-breeze style. It’s a voice that comes across in the writing, but hearing it live really enhances the story’s tone. And the rain tapping the wall of glass behind him added a nice rhythm to the narrative.

Of course, live performance is always an adventure. I’m sure there must have been times when an Old-English scop found himself upstages by distractions in or around the mead-hall. That’s more or less what happened to Heidi Ruby Miller at Bradley Books when a train decided to ruble past Station Square during her scheduled reading slot. No matter. Heidi scopped on, bringing her presentation to Eljay’s and delivering it after Jason concluded his reading, making for a terrific conclusion to the day-long event.

Heidi Rubi MillerHeidi read from her novel Greenshift, which is available through Dog Star books, Raw Dog’s science-fiction imprint.

Other people sighted at Eljay’s were Kevin Hayes, Laurie Mann, Diane Turnshek, and Karen Yun-Lutz – all members of Parsec, an organization devoted to the promotion of literary science-fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative fictions.

A nice contingent or Raw Dog and Dog Star authors were also there, including Michael A. Arnzen, Albert Wendland, K. Ceres Wright, and Stephanie Wytovich.

Of course, Raw Dog founders John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes were also on hand.

It was a great time, and I wish I could have stayed around for the dinner that followed. Instead, I headed out into the rain and made my way across town to do some scopping of my own at Riley’s Pour House.

Next up, we’ll revisit the topic of flash fiction with some questions submitted by the good people who attended my recent PAISTA presentation. Then I’ll be following the scop road to the University of Brighton and World Fantasy.

Scop on!

Voices & Music at Jozart Center for the Arts: A Stoker Homecoming

April 3rd, 2012

What is the sound of horror?

We explored the question at last week’s World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, with a multi-media reading from Voices: Tales of Horror.  As part of the on-going 21st-Century Scop project, the presentation featured prose selections set to the music of Veins: The Soundtrack.

This week, the exploration continues at The Jozart Center for the Arts in California, PA, where I’ll be joined by two terrific up-and-coming writers, Sheldon Higdon and Stephanie M. Wytovich.

Sheldon Higdon has had over thirty publications, ranging from fiction to non-fiction to poetry, in numerous magazines and books. His work has appeared in Rue Morgue Magazine, Shroud Magazine, The Portland Magazine, Necrotic Tissue Magazine, Horrorwired, Death Be Not Proud, and Northern Haunts.

Stephanie M. Wytovich is a Rhysling Award nominee (for her poem “The Craving”) who is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

Prose, poetry, and music – the sounds of horror.

Jozart will be the perfect venue for this event.

At World Horror we had to make due with portable equipment set up minutes before the reading. It went well, but at Jozart we’ll be able to work with a system that has been calibrated for the performance space – always an ideal situation.

Jozart is located at 333 Second Street in California PA. You can reach them at 724-938-9730. If you’re anywhere near the area on Saturday, do consider joining Stephanie, Sheldon, and me as we explore the sounds of horror.

The event will run in the evening from 6:00 – 10:30. Admission is free. A reception and book signing will follow.

Upcoming Appearance: Horror Realm

March 7th, 2012

Horror Realm is a media convention with a nice roster of people affiliated with the horror film industry. Here is the information from their website:

Saturday, March 10
Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South
Bethel Park, PA

Lawrence C. Connolly Panel
Moderator: Chris Rickert, co-owner of Eljay’s Books

Join the 21st Century Scop in exploring media, music and literature.  Mr. Connolly is author of the Veins Cycle series of supernatural thrillers.  His collection Voices: Tales of Horror has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award this year for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.