Spokane’s Get Lit! 2016

Spokane’s Get Lit! 2016 – Garth Stein and Corinna Nicolaou.

This year’s edition of Get Lit once again featured a roll call of literary talent. Garth Stein headlined, but Shawn Vestal, Samuel Ligon, Jess Walter and numerous other local writers added to the mix.. Our favorite event this week involved Corinna Nicolaou.

On Wednesday, we attended an enlightening event with Corinna Nicolaou, author of A None’s Story. The session, held at Auntie’s Bookstore (one of our favorite venues), was followed by a sign and greet.

Thursday night brought the now famous Pie and Whiskey readings. This event’s unique blend of Dry Fly whiskey, homemade pie, slamming poetry and flash fiction never ages.

We look forward to seeing what surprises are in store for Get Lit! 2017. As you might have noticed, the countdown has already begun.


Writing 101 – Day 16 – Muse Splash

My tag cloud inspiration.

I chose my blog’s tag cloud (muse splash) as a prompt for the latest writing 101 assignment. Conjunctions have been provided to protect the innocent and their sanity. See how many tags you can find, then turn your computer upside down to discover how many I employed. (Or just glance to the right to see if you found them all).




A Life Shared.

We were as random a romance as Limbaugh and Obama, but that didn’t keep us from floating down life together, like Autumn leaves on the Little Spokane River. We portaged our dreams from Spokane to The Netherlands to Argentina to Brazil to Portugal to South Africa to San Francisco to Germany to France to Seattle to Italy to Chile to Costa Rica to Snoqualmie Falls to Mt. Olympus to Mt. Spokane.

The World Cup was our oyster.

We played football (soccer) like Chelsea and debated politics like Congress. Travel was our photography, nature was our prose. We slept on beaches like turtles and watched the Perseids drop into the ocean. We hiked through history in the EWU libraries and carved our fiction like October pumpkins.

Autism thieved our hope. In the democracy of our fears, we hid from holidays like dogs hide from fireworks.

Avalon retrieved our humor. She chased waterfowl through rivers and wetlands like a Christmas puppy deep in the snow. She embedded herself in our lives like taxes and the national debt in a tea party speech.

Then we rediscovered books and characters, Spain and Hemingway. We attended Get Lit! and NaNoWriMo, gulping down writing like coffee.

And even as smoke fills the panorama of our lives, we still hold hands while watching the meteors fall into the sea.


Answer: 6/



Writing 101 – Day 15 – Asgard Live!

Have you ever wondered what Dr. Phil’s show would be like if he did a remote from Asgard?

My guess is, you haven’t, but thanks to my Writing 101 friend, Melinda ,this nugget appeared in my mind. She suggested a post about the Æsir and Vanir tribes of Norse mythology. My first thought was, now that’s a dysfunctional group, which led to my second thought, where’s Dr. Phil when you need him?

[Applause] Thank you and welcome to this special Norse edition of Dr. Phil. Now, we’ll get to these gentlemen and gentleladies in the horned hats in a second, but first, I just want to read a couple lines written by a woman known only as “the Völva”. She is a woman of the Vanir tribe that has done some journaling on the feud between these two clans. And let me just say to those of you watching at home, if you find yourself in the middle of two warring god gangs, lightning bolts flying back and forth, it really helps to get your feelings down on paper. Just keep that in mind as I read this …

“Odin shot a spear, hurled it over the host;” [Dramatic pause] “that was still the first war in the world” [Applause]

Yes, I agree, very moving. But beyond the artistic wording, the Völva is really pointing to the heart of the matter, isn’t she? Instead of reaching for his phone, Odin’s first instinct is to reach for a spear. Now, I know the Æsir and the Vanir have their differences, but epic battles never solve anything. So, everybody just lower your swords, take off your helmets and let down your hair. Yeah, that’s it Thor. Just like that. So, in the next hour, let’s explore this conflict and then hopefully begin some saga-sized healing. [Applause]

[Voice Over] Stay tuned for more Dr. Phil and don’t miss tomorrow’s show … Giants-Why do they think everyone is beneath them?


The Tease – A New Feature

Blogging 101 inspires a new monthly feature on Mjollnir.

One of the assignments outlined in my recent plunge into Blogging 101 was to develop and add a regular feature to my blog. I had considered this in the past, but never put the idea to code. Hearing the concept suggested by “experts” rekindled my thoughts on the matter. Since one of the central themes of EBM is writing, I have decided to create a feature that focuses on that subject.

The 26th of each month I will post an excerpt from one of my pieces. Fiction, non-fiction, published, work in progress, rough draft, polished copy, or any other passage that fits my mood. There will be no rules, other than choosing pieces I hope intrigue, inspire and edify readers, by whatever connection arises.

Why the 26th? Simple. It represents the number of letters in the alphabet, all the letters I need to write every bit of prose I’ll ever churn up.

Because this entire concept reawakened so suddenly, I haven’t had time to select an appropriate opening salvo. Instead, I will offer a guideline I have followed for years. I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere, so technically, it qualifies.

“I want my heroes to have a good heart and bad habits.”

Look for next month’s excerpt on the 26th.


Get Lit! 2013

Spokane’s annual literary event once again delivers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery April in Eastern Washington, the snow melts, the green buds appear and the goldfinches return. That’s when those of the literary persuasion arise from their winter isolation to share what they have written, read and dreamed. Each new edition of Get Lit! (now in its 15th year) offers something for posers and prosers alike, and 2013 was no different.

We enjoyed a choice of venues and topics that covered the spectrum, from library balconies to hotel conference rooms, from pie and whiskey to red-eye gravy. The list of participants was long and varied, from regional favorites Kim Barnes and Jess Walter to the back east based Jaimy Gordon and Joyce Carol Oates.

The panel discussions are my favorite events. They are the most intimate, and therefore, the most interactive. I enjoyed discussions on philosophy, facial wounds and simmering sauce. Kim Barnes was most impressive.

Hope to see you there next year.                           OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Is Point of View Sacred?

After reading Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent , I wonder.

I like finding old copies of old books in old book stores. Last summer, I happened upon the Steinbeck classic, The Winter of Our Discontent, in a little shop in Depot Bay. It was stamped with markings from the Multnomah County Library. I was hooked.

This spring , I finally got around to reading it.

Somewhere in the first few chapters, the story changes from third person omnipresent to first person. Is this a mistake or a risk in style only masters are allowed?

Curious as to the genesis of this oddity, I read several reviews online, some from when the book was first released a half-century ago. Although many reviewers made reference to Steinbeck’s shift in p.o.v., none seemed to have an explanation. It made me wonder, had he ever explained his choice? I found no evidence that he did.

I have never considered changing p.o.v in midstream. It would be like changing the setting or a character’s name without explanation. But, apparently, Steinbeck found it a useful lever with which to propel his story. Hopefully, someday, I will learn the reason why.


If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry

Interplayers’ “The Boys Next Door” inspires a range of emotion.

Tom Griffin’s play finished its run Saturday night and we were lucky enough to be in the third row. Interplayers is an intimate setting regardless, but our proximity to the stage provided an intensely emotional experience.

“The Boys Next Door” is a play about four men with intellectual disabilities that share their apartment, their lives and their link to the daunting outside world, Jack. The narrative is expressed through his eyes as well as theirs. It’s a wild and bumpy ride that manages to avoid the pitfalls of stereotype while courageously nibbling at its edges all the way to the bittersweet end.

A good play will make you laugh or cry. A great play will have you doing both. This performance did just that.

Just click Interplayers to learn more.


Thinking Outside the Bubble

“Wicked”  brings a new perspective to going green.

We went to see Wicked on its final night at Spokane’s INB Performing Arts Center. It was thoroughly entertaining, but I’m not posting a review. Rather, I want to address the writing lesson offered by this fresh twist on an old classic (or, more accurately, classics – L. Frank Baum’s Oz books as well as the iconic film they inspired) in regard to point of view [POV].

The original tale was told mostly from Dorothy’s perspective. The witch characters barely grew beyond the outlines of stereotype. Glinda, the good witch, was good. Elphaba, the wicked witch, was well … wicked.

But in Wicked, the witches take center stage. Dorothy isn’t even referenced until late in the second act, and then only as a conflict device. This switch to the witches’ perspective, viewed from bubble and broom, represents a dynamic change in the story’s POV. As the tale of Glinda and Elphaba unfolds, good and evil are on display, not as flat attributes of transparent roles, but as intriguing and often conflicting elements of nearly every character on stage.

What does this have to do with writing fiction? It illuminates the value of considering all your characters’ dimensions, both major and minor. Sometimes a cab driver is just a cab driver, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them as our main character gets a ride across town (or across a chapter). I don’t advocate inconsistency with your story’s POV, that can be confusing. But if you’re stuck, or fear a linear plot line emerging, try experimenting with a minor character’s point of view. They might just see something in their rearview mirror that you missed with your main character’s forward-looking eyes. The results could be wickedly creative.


Not Another Resolution

Many of us view the holiday season as an opportunity to reconnect with family, friends, neighbors. This special time recharges our spiritual batteries, ignites our soul. But we might also find ourselves shirking the duties of everyday living – taking out the garbage, paying bills, shaving. We might even stray from the endeavors we enjoy, such as writing.

I must confess, I’ve been neglecting my family. My second family, the one composed of  plots, opinions, characters. I apologize to the jaded lawyer, the arrogant talk show host, the man who hears God’s whisper. I apologize to the single mom, the mayor and the sculptor. I apologize to the secessionist and the turtle. 

I beg for forgiveness from all the characters I left stranded, waiting for their next sentence, while I indulged in fudge and Kahlua. 


It’s time to reconnect.