Tag Archives: Mothers Who Write

Writer, writer on the wall…

Want to be the fairest writer of them all? Read often. Write daily. And learn from the masters.

Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser just announced that registration is now open for the next “Mothers Who Write” workshop, a 10-week series that starts Feb. 23 at Scottsdale Center for the Arts. It meets Thursday evenings from 6-8pm and costs $200 (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts members pay just $175).

A teen writing workshop called “Fems with Pens,” for girls in grades 7-12, begins Jan. 23 at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The six-week series also include 5-6pm sessions on Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 5. Participants write fiction and non-fiction using various exercises, then discuss and edit their work in a “creative, supportive environment.” The series costs $60.

Phoenix Public Library and Changing Hands Bookstore present a “Young Adult Writing Conference” featuring writing classes and a writing panel on Sat, Jan. 28 at the Burton Barr Central Library. Presenters and panelists include authors Adam Rex, Bree Despain, James Owen, Anna Carey, Kiersten White, Aprilynne Pike, Amy Fellner Dominy, C J Hill (Janette Rallison), Robin Brande, Cecil Castellucci and Tom Leveen. The event runs 9am-3pm and costs $85 ($75 through Jan. 19).

A “Yallapalooza” event for teens and tweens takes place at the library that same day at 4pm. The 11 authors noted above will attend, and the event also features free pizza — plus games, prizes and book signing opportunities. Admission is free.

ASU’s Virgina G. Piper Center for Creative Writing holds its 2012 “Desert Nights, Rising Stars” conference Feb. 23-26 at the center, located on ASU’s Tempe Campus. Conference faculty include Sally Ball, Robert Boswell, Bernard Cooper, Denise Dumahel, Carolyn Forche, Pam Houston, Adam Johnson, Mat Johnson, A. Van Jordan, Antonya Nelson, Alix Ohlin, Jem Poster, Melissa Pritchard, Jeannine Savard, Eleanor Wilner and Xu Xi. Writers of all levels are welcome, and general registration is $375 (master class tuition is an additional $125).

The UA Poetry Center in Tucson is presenting several classes and workshops in coming months, including “Poetry in the 21st Century” with Joel Arthur. The eight week literature class, which begins Feb. 6, will explore trends including conceptual poetry, Gurlesque, flarf, virtual poetics, Vispo and more. Participants will read, discuss and listen to American poetry from 2000 to the present. The class costs $200 (plus a $10 materials fee).

The Poetry Center also offers “Possibilities of Short Plays” with Laura Owen, an eight-week writing workshop on writing short form theatrical pieces — monologues and ten-minute plays. Participants will explore voice and dialogue, as well as the intersection of poetry and other forms. Students can expect to complete several dialogues and at least one complete ten-minute play. The workshop, which starts Feb. 8, costs $200 (plus a $5 materials fee).

Scottsdale Public Library and the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers present a “Local Writers Workshop” at the Mustang Library at 1:15pm on Feb. 19. The free workshop covers writing, publishing, an online author toolkit and networking. It’s one of many free writing-related events offered by Scottsdale Public Libraries. (Check your local library for additional options.)

If your organization offers writing classes for youth or adults, feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

– Lynn

Note: An organization called Friends of the Phoenix Public Library needs donations of children’s books to help economically-challenged schools stock their libraries and classrooms. Click here for donation details, and to learn about the Friends’ annual “Winter Book Sale” taking place later this month.

Coming up: Celebrating black history on stage and screen

Ready, set, write…

Both this metal quill and the black marble inkwell below, created in 1994 by artist Larry Kirkman, are visible as you enter the Scottsdale Civic Center library

There’s a lovely house in Tempe that’s home to the ASU Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Its Piper Writer Studio offers writing classes for adults of all ability levels, and registration for their fall offerings in underway.

All courses are led by an experienced writer and teacher. Some take place in the historic Piper Writers House on the ASU Tempe campus. Others are offered online. Your Fall 2011 choices include an eight week poetry session and two four week fiction sessions. Online poetry and fiction courses are also available.

Artworks offer plenty of writing inspiration

Several one day classes are scheduled for October. Topics include memory versus imagination, the art of the very short story, tools for writing dynamic characters and more. Costs are reasonable and discounts are given to “Piper Friends.”

The Arizona Authors Association keeps a calendar of writing-related events offered around the Valley and the state. Think book signings, writers club meetings, writing seminars  and more. Some are meant for writers of a particular genre like romance or mystery. There are groups for Christian writers, groups for women writers and plenty more.

I need a group for writers who write about other writers. Maybe I should head out to ASU’s Piper Center for the 2011-12 “Distinguished Visiting Writers Series” featuring free public lectures by writers here for residencies with ASU faculty and graduate students. The fall lineup includes poets Tony Barnstone and Bruce Weigl, plus novelist Aimee Bender.

Writers often tout the value of a rich reading life in honing the craft of writing, so your local bookstore is a good place to check for writing-related events and classes. Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, for example, has offerings that include a mystery bookgroup, a poetry roundtable and more.

I pause to admire this work (the quill and inkwell pictured above) every time I visit my local library

One of my favorite pairs of writers, Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser, lead “Mothers Who Write” workshops just a couple of times each year at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. These puppies fill quickly.

Keep an eye on local museums, libraries, theater companies and community colleges for additional writing workshops and opportunities to interact with other writers. We’re interesting folk and better than you might think at sharing.

– Lynn

Coming up: Celebrating International Peace Day

From JFK to Father’s Day

This poster resembles a T-shirt my daughter Jennifer loves to wear

For most, the name Kennedy conjures thoughts of politics. My own daughter Jennifer, a 20-year-old antroplogy student at ASU who aspires to work for the United Nations, loves wearing a T-shirt that bears the likeness of a 1960 poster supporting JFK’s presidential campaign.

John F. Kennedy was born in Massachusetts on May 29, 1917. Had he not been assassinated in November 1963, today would be JFK’s 94th birthday. And while opinions of his politics may vary, it’s hard to find fault in his avid support for the arts.

After Kennedy’s death, a work in progress originally dubbed the National Culture Center became the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It’s located near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and there are three ways folks in Arizona can enjoy its offerings.

Those visiting D.C. can attend diverse music, dance and theater performance at the Kennedy Center — assuming tickets are available when you’re ready to buy them. The rest of us can watch for touring productions of Kennedy Center programs like the Theater for Young Audiences performance of “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” presented last year at Higley Center for the Performing Arts, Or go online for daily webcasts from the Center’s Millennium Stage.

The Kennedy Center offers free daily performances (at 6pm EST) on its Millennium Stage. Saturday night I watched streaming video of the Beach Fossils. Sunday night will feature a D.C. trio called “Medications,” described as “an 18-year collaboration between multi-instrumentalists Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter with drummer Mark Cisneros” that “combines a love of ’60s and ’70s pop, as well as the visceral pulse of ’70s punk.”

There’s plenty of live performance art right here in Arizona, but Kennedy Center Millennium Stage offerings are perfect for evenings you’re content to stay home but still want to get your daily dose of arts and culture. While you’re online, consider exploring the Kennedy Center website to learn about its many collaborations with Arizona artists.

Ballet Arizona performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Center’s “Ballet Across America II” program in June 2010. And Childsplay, a Tempe-based theater company presenting works for youth and families, has participated four times in the Center’s “New Visions/New Voices” playwriting development program — with “The Yellow Boat,” “Even Steven Goes to War,” “Salt & Pepper,” and “Telemera: Stories My Mother Told Me.”

But the Kennedy family legacy goes beyond the realms of politics and art.

Patrick J. Kennedy, son of JFK’s brother Edward M. Kennedy and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is coupling his personal experience with bipolar disorder and addiction with his expertise in public policy to further the work of the newly-established “One Mind for Research” campaign — which aims to unify the science, technology, research and knowledge needed to battle brain disorders.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, JFK’s sister, founded the Special Olympics in 1968. The organization — which describes itself as “the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities” — serves more than 3.5 million people through a variety of programs. From June 25 to July 4, 7,500 athletes from 185 countries will participate in the Special Olympics “World Summer Games” in Athens — which includes 22 Olympic-type sports.

Today the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, continues making her own contributions to arts and culture. She serves as honorary chairman of the American Ballet Theatre governing board and has authored several books including “A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children” and the recently released “She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems.”

I imagine what it must have been like to grow up surrounded by the countless words of others attempting to decipher or describe your father’s legacy. If you’d like to try writing about your own father, consider attending a “Father’s Day Writing Workshop” Fri, June 9, from 6-8pm at MADE Art Boutique on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. Here’s a little blurb about the event from the “Mothers Who Write” website:

A good dad is hard to find. If you’ve got one, let him know how you feel by writing something for him this Father’s Day. And if you don’t, write about him anyway — it just might be cathartic. Bring 17 copies of your two-page (typed, double spaced) piece to MADE and fine-tune it with MWW instructors Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) and Deborah Sussman (ASU Art Museum). Spaces are limited; registration is required. To register, call 602.256.MADE.

We all spend far too much time delving into the private lives of other families, famous and otherwise. And while I find the topic of JFK fascinating, I can assure you that my own father is every bit as interesting and complex — albeit in a wholly different sort of a way. Maybe he’s the one I should be writing about…

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about Special Olymics Arizona

Coming up: Local twists on the Tony Awards®, Last chance! Art camps, Do the math: Arizona arts & culture by the numbers

The smell of childhood?

Orange blossom soap from Athens Locally Grown

When I connected recently with Tempe mother and journalist Amy Silverman, she shared a bit with me about her Arizona childhood.

Seems she’d recently purchased a bar of soap with an orange blossom scent. “It literally made me sick,” Silverman told me. “It smelled like my childhood.”

In a sentence, sometimes less, Silverman conjures detailed images that transport readers to other places and perspectives.

Orange blossom cheesecake from Atlanta Cheesecake Company

Hence her many accolades and awards. She’s been twice honored by the Arizona Press Club with the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year award.

For 18 years she’s worked for Phoenix New Times — serving the last six as managing editor.

Still, Silverman finds time to share her talents with others. She’s co-founder, along with Deborah Sussman Susser, of a “Mothers Who Write” class that helps women find and share their voices.

A public reading by “Mothers Who Write” participants (past and present) takes place Sat, May 7 from 2-4pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s free and open to the public, though some material may not be suitable for children.

Orange blossom gift basket from LadyBug Great Gifts

I’d like to see Silverman pen a children’s book. Perhaps something about Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain — a Valley landmark Silverman says she’s always thought of as “the camel’s eyelash.”

Silverman and her husband have two daughters, so she’s got plenty of pearls about both parenting and poising the pen. Registration for the next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop will begin July 1 through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Orange blossom cocktail from Science of Drink

The workshop offers “support and advice for writing mothers (of all ages) who want to develop their craft and receive feedback on their work.” Though all genres are welcome, the main focus is creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

Visit the “Mothers Who Write” website to learn more about classes, readings and the many adventures of “Mothers Who Write” alumni — including Deborah Rich Gettleman of Theatre Artists Studio and Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

And keep an eye out for the June 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — because the ever-fascinating Silverman and her family are profiled in the “AZ Generations” column.

– Lynn

Note: Click here for a list of journalists who’ve won 2010 Arizona Press Club awards — which includes two mothers who write for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Winners will be recognized May 21 at the Arizona Press Club Awards Party in Phoenix.

Coming: More mothers who write

Books & beyond

This new book will appeal to fans of musical theater

Mall it if you must, but I’m hitting the bookstores instead. Places like Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe feel more like community gathering places than retail shopping spaces.

Bring your holiday shopping list along, but be prepared to enjoy much more than their extensive collection of books and gift items.

Author visits and book signings are a frequent occurence at Changing Hands — and feature local as well as nationally-renowned authors. Some write for adults, others for children and teens.

A lovey selection for young music and cat lovers

My own personal favorite is fellow Arizona parent Amy Silverman — mom of two daughters, managing editor of Phoenix New Times and half of a dynamic “Mothers Who Write” duo offering writing workshops.

Silverman presents “Holidaze: How to Write About the Happiest Time of the Year,” at Changing Hands Bookstore on Tues, Dec 2.

For poetry lovers, Changing Hands offers “First Friday Poetry,” “Poetry Roundtable” and other events. There’s plenty for photographers too.

One of several Twyla Tharp titles for creative types

My fellow magazine readers will find an eclectic selection of titles for folks of all ages and interests — including many you won’t find at more traditional book stores or magazine stands.

“Workshop for Toddlers” with Ramie Manch on Mon, Dec 6, mixes toddler/parent together time with strategies for using puzzles to enhance academic and social skills.

Changing Hands has a charming children’s area full of colorful books, toys, puzzles, craft kits, stuffed animals, puppets and more.

Teen events include writing workshops, author visits and much more. Teens love the Changing Hands vibe, and will have a great time exploring Hoodlums Music & Movies right next door.

Gift idea for art managers and leaders

If music is your thing, check out the “East Valley Music School Concert” Sat, Dec 4. If stories rock your world, you’ll find plenty of storytimes at Changing Hands. They’ve even got opportunities to learn a bit of Spanish.

Changing Hands has diverse holiday offerings — commemorating Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and more. They also host local artisans on a regular basis so you can enjoy even more holiday gift ideas.

While reviewing their December calendar (I’m on their e-mail list to receive info on author series, workshops and community events), I stumbled on sign language, physics, wildlife, volunteerism and more.

One of many titles on my holiday reading list

Books are just a bit of the bounty you’ll find at Changing Hands Bookstore. Go. Listen. Read. Create. Meet. Explore.

– Lynn

Note: Changing Hands Bookstore, like Raising Arizona Kids Magazine, is a member of Local First Arizona. Click here to learn about local businesses that appreciate your support during the holiday season and beyond.

Coming up: Art adventures–Arizona Science Center

Women playwrights & Arizona theater

Katsina Dolls and Hopi Ceremonial Calendar on exhibit at the Heard Museum North Scottsdale

I was struck, during a recent trip to the Heard Museum North Scottsdale, by a round graphic of the Hopi ceremonial calendar. The calendar depicts time in circular rather than linear fashion — speaking volumes about differing ways diverse cultures sometimes view time.

The image of an unbroken circle came to mind the other day when I got to thinking about Valley writer and performer Kathleen Buckstaff — who will present a piece titled “The Tiffany Box” at Theatre Artists Studio in Phoenix Nov 4-14.

Our children attended the same elementary school, though I don’t recall that we ever had the opportunity to spend all that much time together. Still, I am eager to see the work – a “unique and intimate performance piece” in which Buckstaff shares a “touching and uplifting journey from love to loss.”

"The Tiffany Box", written and performed by Kathleen Buckstaff, comes to Theatre Artists Studio in Phoenix Nov 4-14

I spoke recently with Matthew Wiener, producing artistic director for Actors Theatre of Phoenix, who noted that three of the offerings in their current season are works by women playwrights.

Wiener takes great pride in bringing “recent, contemporary shows from New York” to the Valley. The company’s 2010-2011 season includes “three of the most exciting playwriting women today.”

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” by Sarah Ruhl runs Oct 29-Nov 14. It’s “a comedy about marriage, intimacy and electricity” set in the 1880s.

This” by Melissa James Gibson runs Jan 21-Feb 6, 2011. It’s a “bright, witty, un-romantic comedy” about “the uncertain steps of a circle of friends backing their way into middle age.”

Circle Mirror Transformation” by Annie Baker runs Apr 22-May 8, 2011. It’s the Arizona premiere of an “inventive and absorbing comedy” exploring “the impact we can have on each other’s lives.”

Actors Theatre presents "In the Next Room" by Sarah Ruhl Oct 29-Nov 14 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. Pictured here are Angelica Howland (Catherine Givings) and Erica Connell (Sabrina Daldry). Photo: John Groseclose

The Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, established in 2003 and based in Scottsdale, produces “contemporary, provocative, thought provoking plays written by women.”

The company is working to provide “an innovative forum for women’s issues” — revealing women’s lives and documenting women’s experiences.

Their “Pandora Showcase,” taking place Nov 12-13 and Nov 19-20 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, will feature “contemporary and new plays by Arizona women playwrights.”

Women playwrights from across the country are invited to submit works for consideration as Arizona Women’s Theatre Company seeks scripts for its 5th Annual Pandora Festival.

A juried panel will select unpublished full length, one act and 10 minutes plays for staged readings during the May 20-22, 2011 festival at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Check the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company website for submission details, instructions and deadlines.

And keep an eye on Theatre Artists Studio, which often features the work of Arizona playwrights and actors including the magazine’s own Debra Rich Gettleman.

Like so many women writers, there’s more to Gettleman than just a pretty blog.

– Lynn

Note: Local writers Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser offer two “Mothers Who Write” workshops each year. The next 10-week series begins Feb 24 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Coming up: Playwriting contests

Arming teens with paper and pen

There are plenty of reasons to hit Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.

Most recently I went with my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer to hear a state legislator and an ASU professor discussing Arizona’s immigration policy with attendees both for and against SB 1070. 

A month or so before I was there with Lizabeth, my soon-to-be 17 year old, to hear Valley actor, director and author Tom Leveen talk about his first “YA” (young adult) novel—titled Party.

Both events were packed, so I’m not surprised that Leveen will be making more appearances at the Indie bookstore

I’m told that Leveen shared a copy of his book with actor James Marsters (known to many as “Spike” in both “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its spinoff “Angel”) Saturday at Phoenix Comicon, and that the two enjoyed a lingering conversation–which confirms my suspicion that Leveen is both author and marketer extraordinaire.

Leveen is one of several writers and authors presenting writing workshops at Changing Hands Bookstore this summer. The events are geared towards tweens, teens or adults—or sometimes a combination. Most last just an hour or two and cost between $20 and $50 dollars (for a single session or a series). Registration and pre-payment are required. 

First up during June is a teen writing workshop titled “Making Us Believe: Dragons, Spies, & Secret Histories.” Author Mark London will “take readers behind the scenes of his own Danger Boy time travel series, showing young writers (ages 9-14) how he mixes history and storytelling.” June 1 and 2, 2-4pm. 

For four consecutive Mondays, starting June 7, Phoenix New Times copy editor and freelancer Tricia Parker will lead girls in grades 7-12 in a teen writing workshop titled “Fems with Pens.” Participants will “write fiction and nonfiction based on a variety of exercises,” discussing and editing fellow participants’ work “in a creative, supportive environment.” June 7,14, 21 & 28, 5-6:15pm. 

Monday, June 7, will also see the return of Leveen (from 6:30-8pm) for a teen and adult writing workshop called “Using Theatre to Sharpen Dialogue,” during which participants ages 16 and up will discover “how taking an actor/director perspective with fiction can make dialogue come to life.” 

Leveen presents a teen and adult workshop titled “Armed Conflict: Getting to the Backbone of Your Fiction by Taking No Prisoners” from 6:30-8pm on Monday, June 28—and another titled “Publishing Basics” from 6:30-8pm on Monday, July 1. Both are for ages 16+.

Younger writers (ages 8-13) can enjoy a three-part tween writing workshop called “Motion Pictures to Picture Books” with Molly Idle from 4-5:30pm on June 14, 16 and 18. Idle will teach participants about “visual storytelling techniques used in film making” and how they can be used to “create unique and engaging illustrated stories.” 

Another three-part tween writing workshop, titled “Hero Quest,” will take place from 6:30-8pm on June 17, 24 and July 1. J.S. Lewis, co-author of the Grey Griffins series, will teach kids “how to create dynamic characters and striking plot lines using the model of the hero’s journey from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth.”  

Participants ages 10-17 can join Taken by Storm and Sing Me to Sleep author Angela Morrison for a tween & teen writing workshop titled “Write What You Know” on July 27, 28 and 29 from 3-5pm. Morrison will “challenge participants to draw from reality to make characters and scenes live and breath” while working on “poetry, short stories, novel chapters, or any other genre they are interested in.” 

While you’re there, get a copy of the bookstore’s monthly listing of other family-friendly activities, and allow extra time to browse through books (plus impressively diverse magazine offerings) and find unique gift selections for your favorite teachers, friends and family members. (James ordered a birthday gift for Lizabeth from Changing Hands but I’d best not reveal it here until after the big day.)

Visit Changing Hands Bookstore online for workshop details, or call 480-730-0205 to register. In the war of words, no one wants to be unarmed. And you just might find that a few simple trips to Changing Hands can change a whole lot of things in your world.

–Lynn

Note: Writing workshops tailored to moms (of all ages) who write are offered by Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) and Deborah Sussman Susser (Jewish News of Greater Phoenix). Their next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop begins Sept. 2 (registration opens July 1). For details visit www.motherswhowrite.com.

Coming up: Opportunities to honor our military folks and families year-round, Lessons learned at theater potlucks

Update: Click here to learn about Christopher Hitchens’ discovery as a youth that “words could function as weapons.” His new book, “Hitch-22,” is one of thousands of titles available through Changing Hands Bookstore.

Making Mother’s Day memories

My Mother’s Day got off to an early start when my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer joined me for an evening of music under the stars at the final concert of this season’s “Desert Sky” outdoor amphitheatre series at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Earlier in the day, mothers from all walks of life gathered nearby at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art for readings of Mothers Who Write participants past and present.

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the folks who cruise up and down Scottsdale Rd. on weekends searching for just the right bar or dance joint. It’s ever so much lovlier–and livelier—on the grounds of Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza.

I never tire of the magic of this place—with its winding paths through lush lawns and gorgeous gardens, its spectacular public library and lake, its museum of contemporary art and plenty of hotspots that are practically works of art in their own right.

LOVE sculpture in Scottsdale

I’ve been strolling the grounds for more than two decades—including the sweltering late August night I decided to walk my way into labor with my first child, now nearing his 21st birthday. We still love poking around the place with our cameras or picnic fare.

Saturday night Jennifer and I enjoyed performances by two bands featuring fiddles and frivolity—Bearfoot (who’ll play the Sedona Bluegrass Festival on Mother’s Day) and Solas.

We were among several hundred folks who came out to enjoy the night sky, the music both merry and melodic, and the delectable edibles of Arcadia Farms (think apples, Brie, strawberry chicken salad and more).

We passed children frolicking on the lawn, seniors dancing to Michael Buble songs played between sets, romantic types swapping backrubs (all G-rated, mind you) and even a gentleman blissfully napping in his lawn chair before Solas took the stage.

There’s ever so much bickering these days about how our tax dollars get spent, but I couldn’t be more proud of my city than when I see places like Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza bring together people from across generations to enjoy music, theater, dance and visual arts together.

I’m hoping Tuesday night finds me off duty as the “teen taxi” so I can hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for the final film in this season’s “Talk Cinema” series. It’s a “festival-style” experience featuring independent and foreign films with post-viewing discussions.

I’ll be eagerly watching the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website for news of their offerings during the upcoming season. But for now, I’m off to enjoy some quality ‘me time’ with Betty White on Saturday Night Live before drifting off to sleep with memories of Jennifer (rocking her Irish American pride ala green O’Bama t-shirt with shamrock) gently nudging my shoulder between jigs.

–Lynn

Photo: Cool Kids Camp participants with one of many pieces of sculpture at Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza (courtesy of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts). Watch for more photos of Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza coming after Christopher and I enjoy some time together sorting through our photo collection and/or heading out for a Mother’s Day photo shoot.

Note: Consider making an arts adventure part of your Mother’s Day celebration. Just check the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine (and Friday’s “Stage Mom” post) for ideas. Today is your last chance to experience Nilaja Sun’s “No Child” presented by Actors Theatre, and the perfect day to “whizz bang” away with Childsplay and “The Big Friendly Giant.”

Coming up: Review of “The Big Friendly Giant”—based on the Roald Dahl book, adapted for the stage by David Wood and performed par excellence by Childsplay.

Dracula, catwalks and Celtic fusion

Dance meets fashion. Moms with pens meet the podium. Richard III and Dracula meet their fate. Latino art and music meet enthusiastic audiences. It’s all part of another Valley weekend rich in arts and culture.

These are some of your choices for quality grown-up or family-friendly time with the arts…

Dance

Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts Department presents “Student Dance Showcase” Friday, May 7 & 8 at 8pm. Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler. 480-732-7343 or www.cgc.edu/arts.

CONDER/dance presents “Dance for Camera: Dance Film Fest” Saturday, May 8 at 8pm. Short dance films created by local and national filmmakers. Tempe Center for the Arts. 480-350-2822 or http://www.tempe.gov/TCA/.

Scorpius Dance Theatre presents “Catwalk” through Sunday, May 9 (times vary). Original contemporary dance production fusing funky local fashions, sexy athleticism, and choreography by Lisa Starry. Phoenix Theatre (staged on a Little Theatre runway). 602-254-2151 or www.scorpiusdance.com.

Festivals

Chamber Music Sedona presents “Sedona Bluegrass Festival” through Sunday, May 9 (times vary). Creekside at Los Abrigados. 928-204-2415 or www.chambermusicsedona.org.

Hoodlums Music & Movies presents “Hoodstock 2010: Two Days of Rock & Art to Help Kids” Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 (times vary). Hoodlums in Tempe (with participating merchants). 480-775-2722 or www.hoodlumsmusic.com.

Film

Tempe Center for the Arts presents “Border Film Festival” Friday, May 7 and Saturday/Sunday, May 8 & 9 (times vary). Features five of Paul Espinosa’s award-winning documentaries for PBS exploring the history and culture of the Southwestern border region (followed by moderated discussion with Espinosa and humanities scholar). Free admission. 480-350-2822 or www.tempe.gov/tca/calendar.

Music

Chandler Symphony presents “Sound from the Southwest-Music of Hispanic Composers” Friday, May 7 at 7:30pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. 480-899-3447 or www.chandlersymphony.org.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents “Outdoor Desert Sky Series: Solas & Bearfoot” Saturday, May 8 at 7:30pm. Features Celtic fusion of Irish, folk and country music with “jazzy improvisation and global rhythms.” Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater. 480-994-2787 or www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Southwest Symphony presents “From Paris…With Love” Saturday, May 8 at 2:30pm. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.

Theater

Desert Hills High School Theatre Department presents “Dracula: The Musical?” Through May 8 at 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.

Mesa Arts Center presents “Penn and Teller” Friday, May 7 at 8pm. Features unique combination of magic and comedy. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com.

Southwest Shakespeare Company presents “Richard III” through Saturday, May 8. Mesa Arts Center. 480-644-6500 or www.mesartscenter.com (Read “Stage Mom” review in tomorrow’s post).

Visual Art

Artlink Phoenix presents “First Friday” May 7 6-10pm. Tour more than 70 galleries, venues and art-related spaces via free shuttles or self-guided map. Tours start at Phoenix Art Museum. 602-256-7539 or www.artlinkphoenix.com.

The City of Phoenix presents “Opening Reception: Arte Latino en la Ciudad” Friday, May 7 from 6-8pm. Phoenix Center for the Arts. 602-262-4627 or www.phoenix.gov.

Writing

Mothers Who Write presents the “8th Annual Mother Who Write/Mothers Who Read Mothers Day Weekend Reading” Saturday, May 8 at 2pm. Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Current/former students read their work. Admission free but some material may not be suitable for children. www.motherswhowrite.com.

Additional activities (including several children’s theater productions) are noted on the Raising Arizona Kids online calendar. Please check with presenting venues and companies before attending to confirm event date/time, recommended ages, location and cost.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re excited about an event we didn’t have room to mention here, feel free to comment briefly below to let our readers know.

Coming up: Roald Dahl makes his way to two Valley theater productions

Show & tell (top to bottom): Poster for CGCC Student Dance Showcase, Poster for Hoodlum’s Hoodstock, Photo of Solas (coming to Scottsdale Center for the Arts), Photo of Penn and Teller (coming to Mesa Arts Center) and Painting of Richard III (who no doubt sends his regrets because he’s dead)

Crepes, jarring journalism and resources for writers

Jennifer and I discovered a lovely little crepe joint in Tempe a few years ago when she had an overnight birthday party at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel (we took a couple crates of craft supplies along and had a giant arts fest between trips to the rooftop swimming pool).

Recently Lizabeth and I headed out on a frosty morning to read our newspapers and enjoy toasty drinks. Liz recalled the lovely artwork and comfy couches at the Mill’s End Café and Creperie on Mill Avenue, so that’s where we headed.

When we got there, a copy of the New Times—strewn with other reading materials atop a two-tiered metal cart near the cash register—grabbed Lizabeth’s attention.

The otherwise stark white cover featured a broken piece of glass covered in blood. A bit jarring for morning reading, but then, sometimes the best reading gives us a jolt. The lead story, by managing editor Amy Silverman, was titled “Suicidal Tendencies.”

Silverman’s story, part of an ongoing series called “Lost Kids,” recounts harrowing tales of youth with serious mental illness within Arizona’s juvenile justice system. (I use the word “justice” here with more than a tad of trepidation.)

Later that day I hit my pile of yet-to-be-read newspapers in search of earlier pieces in Silverman’s series—including “Saving Alex” and “Losing Erica.” They were near the top, and I set about reading them right away.

The series was reading to remember. It was writing that reverberated. It may well be the single best collection of Arizona journalism I’ve read all year. Not surprising, I suppose, when you consider that Silverman has twice been honored as “Journalist of the Year” by the Arizona Press Club.

Work for consideration for the 2009 awards must be submitted per Arizona Press Club guidelines and postmarked no later than Jan. 20th of 2010. Award categories have been modified somewhat to reflect growing trends in journalism such as increased news content on the Internet.

I last saw Silverman at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She was there with Deborah Sussman Susser, co-instructor for Mothers Who Write—an enterprise that engages writers in developing their craft while sharing feedback on each other’s work.

We’re proud to count one of their alumni—Debra Rich Gettleman—among our fellow writers at Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Gettleman never fails to deliver a lively read, so check the magazine’s online archives when you’re craving a kernel of controversy.

Several of the women who participated in the last Mothers Who Write workshop were at SMOCA with Silverman and Susser to read portions of their work aloud from behind a humble podium located adjacent to a magnificent museum exhibit of Nick Cave “soundsuits.” 

Listening to their works conjured memories and musings—of things simple, scary, sentimental and strong—much like a magical night at the symphony or the theater.

Mothers Who Write is a testament to the power of the pen.

Their next 10-week workshop begins Feb. 25th and I must admit that I’m toying with taking part. (First I have to quell the intimidation factor.) Registration for the workshop, which often fills quickly, begins Jan. 4th. 

We’re partial to parents who write around here, but equally fond of youth who commit pen to paper—so I’m always on the lookout for events that engage children and teens in reading and/or writing. Here’s one that recently caught my eye…

Changing Hands Bookstore and Hoodlums Music and Movies present “YAllapalooza! 2010” from 4-7pm on Saturday, Jan. 9th. They’re located side by side on the corner of S. McClintock Dr. and E. Guadalupe Rd. in Tempe. (The fact that Wildflower Bread Company is next door is an added bonus—especially when you have a hankering for breakfast on a budget.)

The event is described as “a literary musical extravaganza featuring live bands, pizza, games, prizes, and a chance to mix and mingle with your favorite YA authors and get books signed.” (YA is bookstore speak for “young adult.”)

As the proud parent of an ASU student and “indie-minded” consumer, I often hear of these events firsthand. But it doesn’t hurt that I’m on the e-mail alerts for both Hoodlums and Changing Hands.

The Changing Hands e-newsletter alerted me to several writing-related events scheduled for January—some for grown-ups, some for tweens and teens—covering everything from poetry and journaling to how to get published and how to beat writer’s block.

A teen workshop titled “Indie Mini-Comics” (for ages 13 and up) will take place at Changing Hands on Saturday, Jan. 16th. Check the store’s website for event and registration information.

Every author I’ve ever spoken with offers the same advice to potential writers: The best way to improve your writing is simply to write—and write, and write. The most proficient writers are often the most prolific readers, so blossoming writers do well to have their nose in a book when there’s no pen in their hand.

Anyone witnessing the recent exchange of gifts at our house might suspect that we’re destined to become a writing version of the famous singing von Trapp family (whose story is loosely told in the movie “The Sound of Music”). If you can’t eat it, listen to it or read it, it probably wasn’t on any of our holiday wish lists.

The bookseller to whom I handed Jennifer’s list was especially surprised to see one of Freud’s works on the list. I thought I’d get a good chuckle when I mentioned I had one daughter who planned to give it to another, but no—just a blank stare. He wouldn’t have had any fun celebrating the holidays at our house.

If you want your teen to love reading and writing, expose them early and often to good books and writing opportunities.

Aspiring teen writers can learn a thing or two from “how-to” books like “A Teen’s Guide to Getting Published: Publishing for Profit, Recognition and Academic Success” (Jessica Dunn and Danielle Dunn), “The Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published” (Kathy Henderson) and “Screen Teen Writers: How Young Screenwriters Can Find Success” (Christina Hamlett).

Still, nothing replaces the acts of reading and writing. When you can share them with others—especially while enjoying crepes and coffee or cocoa together—so much the better.

–Lynn

Note: When last I visited the Stone Soup magazine website, it announced blogging opportunities for creative writing teachers. If you’re interested in learning more, check it out at www.stonesoup.com

Coming soon: The Young Writers Program at ASU, Upcoming community college theater productions, Youth symphonies in the Valley of the Sun