July 21, 2017

The Magic of What If...Sci-Fi, Singing Competitions, and Repeating That First Night of College

Welcome to...

     The Magic of What If

(Musically Inclined, Chocolate Fueled)

Hello, lovely people!

This month's What If is a multi-layered experience:

Layer 1) Getting to see author John Scalzi speak

Back on June 27 I saw a tweet posted by sci-fi author John Scalzi about his upcoming appearance as the keynote speaker for the Antioch Writers Workshop. I was just about to retweet that post, saying "Gee, I wish I could go" when I paused and thought, "Hey, maybe I can?!" 

After a closer read of the dates/times (July 8 & 9) for the keynote and the following morning's workshop, and some travel calculations, the answer was a YES. Wheee! Scalzi is one of my favorite writers, for his wit and strong characters, and for his explorations of what it means to be human, played out against sci-fi landscapes.

(Landscapes? Should that be skyscapes? Starscapes? How is "Starscapes" not a TV show? I'm gonna write that. [Starscape, singular, is a videogame, among other things. Starscapes, plural....seems to refer to only the real thing in the nighttime sky, and to an advanced-yet-sketchy version of the little glow-in-the-dark stickums for your ceiling. Hmm. But I digress.]) 
I've read most of Scalzi's books, his blog Whatever and follow him on Twitter, @scalzi. (Clearly, I'm a fan. I got a new copy of Redshirts which he signed for Sweetie and me... squeee!) And, Jess L., if you're reading this - loved chatting with you about sci-fi and fantasy!

Was very curious to hear Scalzi's thoughts on the writing process, and his personal trials, tribulations, and joys on the way to success. I was not disappointed! (In fact, I took some 12 pages of notes. And laughed a lot.) I am also heartened by his willingness to use his powers for good. (I.e. using privilege/success/bully pulpit/what have you, in order to promote general decency towards one's fellow human beings.)

Lifehacker interviewed Scalzi a few years ago for their This Is How I Work segment, will give you a sense of what goes on in that brain: Scalzi

One of the many useful thoughts I took away from his keynote speech and creative craft class was this idea: Dialogue is not speech. He went on to explain that dialogue is something that mimics the intent but not the actual flow of speech (which tends to be overrun with hmms and ums and uhs and other fillers), in service of forwarding the plot. I'm still wrapping my brain around how to do this successfully. (...)

Side note: if you're interested in improving your writing, meeting fellow writers, and have a week to spare in the summer, Antioch Writers Workshop seems like a good investment.

Layer 2) Where, oh where, shall I lay my head for a little slumber?

I'd been traveling most of the week of July 4, and had never heard back about available housing on the campus of University of Dayton for the workshop. To be fair, being distracted with travel and family stuff, I hadn't done a good job of following up, either. Which is why I found myself asking one of the workshop coordinators for info on where to stay that Saturday night. She kindly lead me to two other people, whom I had assumed were coordinating housing, but who were in fact workshop participants who happened to have a vacancy for a fourth person in their dorm room.

Yes, just like starting college all over again, sharing space with people you've never met before! Cindy and Elita were very kind, offering up the extra bunk -  my spidey sense reacted to them with good vibes, so I happily took them up on the offer. Later that night, the four of us, Cindy, Elita, Amy and yours truly, sat up talking for several hours about writing, life, and our various connections (for example, Cindy lives and teaches in Utah, but grew up in the Cleveland area; her brother is opening a restaurant in the Cedar-Lee area this fall. SMALL WORLD, people.)

And, speaking of the world becoming smaller, I met a young woman named Victoria who had traveled 13 hours via plane from Argentina, solely to attend to the Antioch Writers Workshop. Talk about dedicated to learning your craft! We had an interesting chat about writing, and on how college/university works in Argentina: going to college is free; it's easy to get in, difficult to actually graduate. But everyone gets a chance to try it. You can follow Virginia on Quora, here: Ms. Castiglione.

Up Next:

Mid-August-ish - Ideas for Patreon and putting out music/writings of various kinds are continuing to evolve. Life happenings pushed back my deadlines for getting a Patreon page ready to roll out this month. Will get it done sometime in the next couple months - stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, pianist/songwriter Joe Barone and I are going to be putting out some covers of pop/other music on YouTube, starting sometime in August. Will keep you posted! Also, if you have suggestions on songs you'd like to hear covered, please send them my way.

October 15, 2017 - Cleveland Composers Guild concert. I'll be premiering some new pieces written by my composer friend, Ryan Ramer, details to follow as they're available.

September 10, 2017 and October 22, 2017 - I'm part of the team working on the Shining Star Cleveland solo-voice competition for college scholarship!  

The preliminary screenings have come and gone (I was one of several initial screeners). The first live rounds will be coming up in mid-August, then the semi-finals on September 10 and finals on October 22 at Playhouse Square. I'm very happy to be a part of enabling young singers to attend college and helping our seniors with dementia benefit from music, via Montefiore Foundation's Memory Care Network. More on the cause, here: Memory Care Network

Music Segment for this issue:

Korby Lenker, ladies and gentlemen! One dreary evening in mid-January 2016, Sweetie and I wandered over to Loganberry Books to hear this person whose work sounded intriguing (found the listing in Scene Magazine, I think).

It was Korby Lenker! He's a singer-songwriter and a writer-writer (and a musician's musician). Korby happened to be in Cleveland at Loganberry Books for a reading from his new book, Medium Hero. Due to the nasty weather, the turn-out was small, but Korby's book and music made the venture worth it. I remember being mesmerized by the passage he read from Medium Hero, and really enjoying his music (still do!). Korby has an interesting backstory, including being the son of a mortician (which I feel like I can relate to somewhat, as the daughter of a retired pastor). He's a great musician and lovely guy.

Here's my copy of Medium Hero. And Tigger, just cuz.

As it happens, Korby *just* put out a new CD a few days ago, Thousand Springs, recorded in more than a dozen locales across the US. Here's the official video of his song, "Uh-Oh," from the album: Uh-Oh. And because I are one, I'm including the video for Book Nerd. (Please note, I do not share the song title character's opinion of To Kill a Mockingbird. Really, how *can* you say that?)

Korby is also doing a great project on Instagram, entitled Make America Friends Again, his ongoing series about the people he meets and makes friends with on the road. Take a peek, here: Korby Lenker Instagram

Check out his music, and follow Korby on Twitter; you won't regret it.

Chocolate: This month, the chocolate deliciousness appeared in the form of a cake, celebrating my mom's birthday last week. Cake was acquired from Mrs. Goodman's Baking Co in Worthington, Ohio. You do good work, Mrs. Goodman. Dark chocolate cake, not a dry crumb in sight, and chocolate ganache frosting. Happy sigh...

Random Thingy for July:  Katie Baron, Life Coach

I know, I know - there are still a lot of people who hear the words "Life Coach" and think it's a glorified here's-how-to-tie-your-shoelaces approach to things, but not true, at least not with Katie Baron.

Katie did a bit of What If thinking herself a few years ago, and left a full-time position writing greeting cards to pursue her dream of being a life coach. I'm so glad she did, as I'm one of the people she's helped along the way. If you're having trouble figuring out what you should be doing with your life, or just need a tune-up to make sure you're on track, Katie's your person. For more on what Katie does as a life coach, check out her website: Baron Life Coaching  And follow her on Twitter, @NonstopOptimist

Thanks for reading all the way to the end, and stay tuned for the next issue of The Magic of What If, arriving in your mailboxes sometime during the week of August 21!


P. S. I intend for this newsletter/blog to stay free to anyone who wishes to read it. Having said that, if you'd like to help support the writing of The Magic of What If, please visit paypal.me/LizHuff, and thank you!

Visit my performer page on Facebook: Liz Huff
Connect with me on LinkedIn