Monday, August 22, 2011

Second Summer Lit Marathon a Success!

Last Friday's Lit Marathon was a huge success, thanks in big part to our spectacular slate of performers.  We took it easy on the literary marathoner audience this year and brought them seven hours of entertainment instead of last year's 24-hour program.  The evening, benefiting The Young Storytellers Foundation, was jam-packed with hours of entertaining and insightful readings.  Our very own Ashaki Jackson kicked the night off with solemn, moving poetry in memory of her grandmother, laced with humorous asides.  She was followed by author Jillian Lauren, who shared an exclusive snippet of her upcoming novel, Pretty, which hits stores August 30th.

As the evening progressed, guests trickled in and out of the Library, listening to the performances from the Lounge while mingling by the open bar (our lovely bartender's recommendation: UV cake-flavored vodka + root beer = extra delicious root beer float!  Thanks to UV for this donation!) and buying scrumptious pastries from the Miss California contestants' charity bake sale.  The atmosphere was very relaxed and social.  Ben Weber, our honorable MC, kept the good times rolling with light, easygoing banter in between acts. 

One of the night's highlights was the TV writers' panel, moderated by Jay Gibson and featuring Deirdre Shaw Gibson (JANE BY DESIGN, LIFE UNEXPECTED), Liz Tigelaar (ONCE UPON A TIME, LIFE UNEXPECTED), Bruce Miller (EUREKA, MEDIUM), and Jami O'Brien (HELL ON WHEELS, BIG LOVE).  The panel shared insights about how they got their start and what it's like in the writers room from assistant to showrunner perspectives.  As a creator, Liz shared her own perspective of assembling a team of writers that would work well together.  Deirdre and Jami, as current staff writers, emphasized the importance of an encouraging environment with a showrunner who, rather than shooting ideas down without producing alternative solutions, helps in massaging the ideas into kernels that can be used.  Bruce shared his experience from ER to Eureka, including the roller coaster last-minute cancellation (read more here from Deadline Hollywood) of the show just days before the panel.

Towards the middle of the evening, it was my (Jacqui's) turn to go up on stage!  I performed three of my songs, "Angry Welts," "Love Song for the Hopeless Romantics," and "Giddy."  The warm reception from the audience paid great testament to the vibrant, enthusiastic, and supportive writers' community I'm honored to be a part of here at The Junction.  :)  *Junction note: Singer-songwriter Jacqui is awesome and delightful -- if you get a chance to see her play, don't miss it!

As the night wound down, the stage was graced by spoken word artists and writers who shared sneak peeks at their working novels.  In addition to the talented David Francis, Rita Williams and Nicole Wells, late night was highlighted by Rich Ferguson's spoken word, including one of our favorites, "To The Judgmental Rushing-to-Conclusions Cashier at My Local Supermarket."  From humor to deep thoughts: "And when we kiss... present, past, future -- with my love, I never know in what tense I exist."  Rich was followed by his fellow The Nervous Breakdown writer Anne Walls, who channeled a young adult hypochondriac from her debut novel.  Return Literary Marathon warrior Sean Hill then charmed the crowd with his stage presence and spoken word pieces on love, and Anna Metcalf shared a second excerpt from her novel about house-sitting an abandoned mansion on the Tennessee/Kentucky state line.  Finally, the night closed with Brooke Bastinelli, who gave voice to damsels in distress with tongue-in-cheek poems about just wanting to be "kept."

All in all, we had a grand time at this summer's Lit Marathon.  Many thanks to all of you who joined us, and stay tuned for posts of the videos on our YouTube channel!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Only TWO DAYS LEFT until the 2nd Summer Lit Marathon!

Revisit last year’s wildly popular 24-hour literary marathon in redux with new & returning stars.  This event will feature some of the literary, entertainment, & music world's best & brightest.  Take a look at our stellar line-up:

7:15PM- Ashaki Jackson*- poetry
7:30PM- Jillian Lauren author of Some Girls: My Life in a Harem- excerpt from upcoming novel Pretty
7:50PM- Mark Sarvas* author of Harry, Revised- fiction
8:10PM- Inside The Writer's Room: A Panel – get the inside scoop on a television writers room with showrunners & staff writers including: Liz Tigelaar (LIFE UNEXPECTED, ONCE UPON A TIME), Jami O'Brien (HELL ON WHEELS, BIG LOVE) , Bruce Miller (EUREKA, MEDIUM), Deirdre Shaw Gibson (LIFE UNEXPECTED, JANE BY DESIGN) & more!
9:10PM- Sarah Monson- comedy
9:30PM- Brad Listi author of Attention. Deficit. Disorder- fiction
9:50PM- Jim McCaffree- humorous excerpts from self-help blog
10:00PM- Tatiana Blackington- excerpt from The Sanctuary, winner of The Nervous Breakdown's Novel Contest
10:15PM- Mark Rizzo* TV/film writer & storytelling veteran
10:35PM- David Francis author of Stray Dog Winter- excerpt from new novel
10:55PM- Rita Williams author of If the Creek Don't Rise
11:20PM- Rich Ferguson- spoken word
11:40PM- Anne Walls- comedy
MIDNIGHT- Neal Brennan* co-creator of Comedy Central's CHAPPELLE'S SHOW
12:20AM- Nicole Wells- personal essays
12:30AM- Sean Hill- spoken word
12:50AM- Anna Metcalf- humor/memoir
1:10AM- The Dub Collective acoustic band featuring Jacqui Fauni*
1:30AM- Brooke Bastinelli- poetry
And of course, your most honorable Master of Ceremonies...
Ben Weber* actor, writer, Geico Caveman

Performances will be going for 7 (not 24!) hours straight, as will the food, drinks, & revelry.  There will be a silent auction, giveaways, & you can check out the amazing workspace that is The Writers Junction.  We will donate a portion of the evening's proceeds to The Young Storytellers Foundation.

Buy your tickets now for $8 each:
or roll the dice at the door for $2-12 admission.

*notes Writers Junction member

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Romance in e-Reading: The Heartbreak of Closing the Shop Around the Corner

by Jacqueline Fauni

When Borders first announced they were filing for bankruptcy back in February, I was devastated, but still held out a bit of hope since they were only closing some of their stores, and fortunately the one in Torrance (my local store) would remain open.  Call it optimistic or naive, but I thought maybe -- just maybe -- taking this step would help them eventually turn around.  Alas, they are closing all their doors for good.

I've read lots of different opinions on the matter -- some chalking it up to mismanagement, some calling it poetic justice because Borders was responsible for a lot of independents going out of business (like Tom Hanks' Fox Books to Meg Ryan's Shop Around the Corner), etc.  But as my fellow card-carrying (though those cards are useless now, except maybe as collectors' items in 200 years) Borders Rewards members would attest, many of us are deeply saddened.  One particularly disheartening reason Borders is closing up shop is that they couldn't keep up with the "e-volution" of books, with their Kobo getting left in the dust by Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Yet another reason for me to despise e-readers.  Grr.

Sure, they save trees, space, time and money (at least in the long run), and as a Millennial, I'm supposed to covet all sorts of cool technology, but as a rather old-fashioned gal myself, I just have no desire to buy an e-reader.  Where's the romance in pressing some buttons instead of being able to turn a page and relish its strangely satisfying texture under your fingertips?  Where's the communal spirit in shopping for books online (besides the reviews... which I must admit are incredibly helpful)?  Where's the serendipity in instantly clicking "purchase" rather than spending a Sunday afternoon idly perusing the shelves for hours and stumbling upon a book that seems to be made for you?

Just as there's something about the act of grappling in an empty post office box that doesn't quite translate to checking your e-mail, the e-reading revolution lacks the organic shopping experience offered by bookstores like Borders.  Of course, I don't think Borders' closing is a sign that all brick-and-mortar bookstores will be going extinct anytime soon (knock on wood) -- but I sincerely hope the e-books revolution doesn't completely take over and wipe the society and romance out of reading.

What do you think about Borders' closing?  Are e-readers the bane of any other book lovers' existence out there?  Or have you made the switch?