Tag Archives: short stories

Sentence prompts from me

Looking for writing prompts? In addition to my one word poetry prompts for April on my own blog, Suzanne Lurience hosts me once a month with story prompts–of a more substantial nature (poetry too if you wish)Be sure to check out the new writing prompts for the week, here:
 
 

Red Face

I made a book club appearance in Raleigh yesterday. I put it on Facebook, I notified my book club by email–but I forgot to note it on my blog–oh dear!!!

Wonderland book club in Raleigh hosted me yesterday! Thanks to Alice Osborn and all who attended. Tho the photo is of short story book, we discussed Secrets of the Heart.
Thanks again, everyone!

Alice Osborn's photo.

Hat Trick! Persistence PAYS!

My story,

Last book in Legacy of Honor Series

Last book in Legacy of Honor Series

Collection of short stories by Joan Leotta

Collection of short stories by Joan Leotta

Picture Book  by Joan Leotta

Picture Book
by Joan Leotta

will be published in Indiana Voice–but that is not part of my personal Hat Trick for this summer. This summer, three BOOKS of mine have or will come out–in both real paper form (or hardback!) and in e-form. (two)

The last of my Legacy of Honor series, tracking the generations of an Italian American family serving our country in four wars, Secrets of the Heart is out.

Simply a Smile, a collection of my short stories (many award winners) is now available as well!

Both of these are on AMAZON.COM

(http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joan+leotta&sprefix=joan+leotta%2Caps%2C366)

cut and paste the above link to find them.

In August, the last of my three summer loves, will be out

WHOOSH! available now for pre-order from TheaQ.com, is a picture book that shows the joys of a close father daughter bond, displayed on a father daughter sledding day in heavy snow.

This publisher was very receptive to my idea–for years I was approaching publishers who wanted trendy, quirky with this tale and was rebuffed. Finally, TheaQ in Minnesota understood my vision and liked the book! They chose a very talented illustrator and I can;t wait to see the hard cover version of the book!

Joan

Here is the bio for the Indiana Magazine

Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood. In addition to her work as an award-winning journalist, short story writer, author, poet and essayist, Joan performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. Her four books of historical fiction (Legacy of Honor series) are available from Desert Breeze Publishing and on Amazon.com along with her newly released collection of short stories, Simply a Smile, (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joan+leotta&sprefix=joan+leotta%2Caps%2C366). Her first picture book, Whoosh! (about a father and young daughter’s day out sledding) can be pre-ordered from TheaQ.com and will be released August 2015.After a lifetime in snowier climes, Joan now lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies and memories. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joan+leotta&sprefix=joan+leotta%2Caps%2C366

Traveling Tales

Travel is a great inspiration for writing but ideas for great poems, essays, and stories do not always come immediately. Yes, I wrote the signature story for Simply a Smile (to be released this month by Cane Hollow Press) in one night after seeing the Chinese Soldier exhibit at the High Gallery. But, consider my latest published essay–Two Cups of Coffee–in Easter Iowa review’s current issue. That story is about an incident that happened forty years ago. I do have a notebook full of ideas and my trip journal to help me move the muse along about my May trip to Turkey with my daughter, but so far all I have written on that trip–for publication–is an article on food.

Sometimes a travel location becomes a site for action in a book that is not related so much to the place as to the characters and plot. My also-this month release, Secretes of the Heart features Ft Fisher in Wilmington NC (a great place to visit) and my beloved Rome. Our family spent Christmas there this past year and I double checked all of the places where my characters would walk, eat, etc while we roamed Rome.

Last book in Legacy of Honor Series

Last book in Legacy of Honor Series

Packing a suitcase has been a writing inspiration for me since childhood when I would take trips with my Grandmother and of course, every family vacation.  I keep notes, take pictures, and purchase silly little souvenirs–all become mnemonic devices for the creation of word-built works at a later date. So, don;t worry if you feel overwhelmed by the beauty and excitement of your latest trip. The writing side of the trip may not happen for a while–but if you are a lover of words, you will begin to find the source of tales in the stories you tell about the good time you had.

Travel is wonderful–for the soul and for the pen

Collection of short stories by Joan Leotta

Collection of short stories by Joan Leotta

Form and Technique

Warning–this is a longish entry

Find the Right Form, Then Make it Look Easy with your Technique

That’s really what good writing and good performing are all about. Finding the right form for the expression of your ideas and then making it as if it were completed with ease.

This is how I often feel--life is like meeting waves.

This is how I often feel–life is like meeting waves.

Form
In performance the right form can mean, using puppets, props, degree of audience involvement, length of performance, using the fourth wall, interacting with the audience, live, film, music, and more. In writing form runs the gamut from poem to flash fiction to short stories, novels, essays , creative non-fiction, standard non-fiction and then there is the whole genre thing—literary, mystery, humor, and more. Often, the creative thought chooses its own form somewhat like the Harry Potter concept of the wand choosing the wizard.

Which brings me to what I am going to share with you today. I am not sharing the work itself because it will be produced in February but has not yet been published.

The name of the work, now a ten-minute play, is “Pinpoint Wisdom” It first saw the light of page about five years ago as a short story. I wrote it as a challenge to myself, to those in the creative world who were slamming my entries to various short story contests, rejecting them out of hand because they were not “literary” fiction. I decided to try my pen in this genre. The saying/ question, “How many angels are on the head of a pin?” came to mind. I like this because it seems deep but in working out my tale

The story came into being as a dialogue heavy work in which I determine that the wrong question is being asked by th echaracters. My critique group liked it. Using their comments, I polished my story and sent it off, waiting to be embraced by the literary journal world. A few “reading fees” later, I determined that my cost was exceeding any benefit of seeing the tale published and put the story away for a while.

Various contests challenged me to remake it,–as an all-dialogue short, a poem, and more.. Still failed. Finally I saw the Ft. Point Channel contest. 10-minute play involving dance.
Hmmm, my characters dance in the story. I groaned. The discipline of play writing is not for the lazy or faint of heart. Because I ‘m a performer, I can shift focus to staging easily. But when I do it for myself, I don’t have to meet the conventions of stage formatting which is a pain in the neck to write for those not used to it.

Sigh. I researched the form, and doubled down . Hours later it was done—first draft that is. Then I polished and polished again. At last, I sent it in. Then, I forgot about it.

Amazement! My play was accepted and will now be produced! The right format for this thought was stage. But it took me five years to find the right format.

Technique
And in shaping it, each time I had to submit a program that was well crafted enough for technique to promote the tale.. Technique should never be in the way/ It should be your box of tools. The house or finished piece should be smooth and lovely. All of those times you hit your finger with the hammer, that’s all forgotten,. The crooked nails you had to pull out and replace, the changes of size, color, etc—none of that should show in the finished product. Of course you have to know what kind of house (format) you are building. Each time I switched, I had to re-think technique, so the constant reshaping of my work was a graduate course in creative writing.
Persistence, attention to craft and to the demands of each form. Now my work will live in a different way, as a play! My first. A director and actors will interpret my work for an audience. As a performer, it makes me rethink how I shape and present the words of others when I am on stage. Humbling. Exciting!

So, don’t give up on a piece that is languishing in your computer. Maybe it should be presented in another form. Don’t skimp on the craft of that other form and format. No matter what, rethinking and reshaping will give your mind a creative boost.

See below for the playbill with my name in it as playwright—Mine is one of six ten-minute plays being offered on the Valentine’s weekend in Boston.

So, I just found the playbill in my email(draft). So exciting!
I cannot thank Ft. Point Theatre Channel enough for selecting my show, Pinpoint Wisdom!.
The play is being produced on Feb 13 and 14, contact for tickets(free) is below)
https://www.facebook.com/events/328361430684525/ is the FB page to find out more about everything…

Tickets
Tickets for Channel/Dance are free. You can reserve a seat below or just show up and take a seat until we are full! Half the seats will be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
FORTPOINTTHEATRECHANNEL.ORG