by PJ Colando
The name evokes the image and activity to which all of us aspire: a pen endlessly ablaze with imaginative plots and characters, rendered in prose that defies death. No false blots on the paper. The title Pen on Fire derives from Barbara DeMarco-Barrett’s 2004 book that propelled my own hobbyist start.
While Barbara does not reign like Gertrude Stein in her famous Parisian literary salons in the last century, she does invite topical guests who parallel Hemingway and other literary greats. Agents and authors are present to talk about their process, read from their book — which you can buy on-site — and then personally sign each copy with a pen (preferably not afire). This is a venue to listen and absorb, to bask in the vision of what you will become.
Set in the vibrant palate of a contemporary art gallery in peaceable seaside Corona Del Mar, the Tuesday night events have visual as well as aural appeal. Add good taste: your own for being among the reverent — groups numbering 40-50 — and the wine, water, and nibbles, provided at a nominal fee.
Scape Gallery is located near the Port Movie Theater on Pacific Coast Highway. (I drive by landmarks as well as GPS. Do you?) There’s free parking in front and on a side street. Turn between the Scape and the Port. (Sounds kind of Harry Potterish, doesn’t it?) Stop and listen as you disembark from your car; you just might hear the ocean, splashing the beach boulders a few blocks away.
Intimate Seating for Questions and Answers
The events begin at 7:00 p.m., and one of the joys of these adventures is discovering which new multi-media artist is showcased on the gallery walls. The installations are well lit, but the setting is intimate. Everyone knows that sitting next to the teacher augments learning. The speakers are generous and open to the feedback, so ask away!
If there are no questions, the hostess, Barbara, is a talented interviewer, who has rapport with many of the featured guests such as Elizabeth Marro, T. Jefferson Parker, Mona Simpson, Susan Straight, and Jess Walter. She asks smart, insightful questions, so the evening flows well.
Barbara also hosts a weekly radio show: ‘Writers on Writing’ each Wednesday at 9:00 am on KUCI-FM, on the dial at 88.9 and simulcast worldwide at www.kuci.org. It is a wholesome, scholarly way to begin the day.
For information on authors and/or agents scheduled throughout the year, and to schedule a reservation, please check Barbara’s website.
Invite yourself, connect with other writers and authors, and immerse yourself in creativity as a get-away or a get-into-it. No regrets required.
PJ Colando writes Americana fiction, humorous, cautionary satire. It’s her elegant hobby, a creative pastime that beats piss-and-vinegar politics. A sequel to her debut novel, STASHES, in the Jackie and Steve Breeden saga, HASHES & BASHES, will be published soon. Visit her website at www.pjcolando.com.
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