Open Mic Night – Hidden Identities – October

Leaves are blowing in the streets, students are returning to the city, and open mic nights have started up again.  Autumn is definitely here.  And we have a special guest this month at the Creative Cafe and Write Now Open Mic Night, Robert Pimm will be joining us.  Pimm has written the nerve wracking thriller Blood Summit and sharing selections from the book and answering audience audience questions.

Special Guest: Robert Pimm

Robert Pimm lives and works in Vienna.  Widely travelled, he is active on social media, including his blog RobertPimm.com, on twitter as @RobertPimm (including the #ViennaWritingInspiration hashtag) and on Facebook as author.robertpimm.

Blood Summit

More complex than Dan Brown.  More thrilling than Le Carré.  Closer to the truth than either.
Counter-terrorism expert Helen Gale has one job: to protect world leaders at a summit in the Berlin Reichstag.
But terrorists take hostage presidents, prime ministers, one hundred innocent children – and Helen’s journalist husband.
Then the executions start.
Helen’s life implodes. Yet she alone can see the truth. As special forces plan a deadly assault, she must enter the shattered hulk of the Reichstag to try and stop a bloodbath.

“Blood Summit” is available from Shakespeare & Co in Vienna, from Amazon, or on the night at Cafe Korb.

Hidden Identities

For the October 18, 2018 edition of our get together, and in honour of our special guest,  the theme is Hidden Identities.  We will be looking forward to hearing your stories, songs, poems, stand up comedy, and other  creative enterprises in which failed caped crusaders are sharing their memories with aspiring sidekicks, an assassin who is also a noble from a neighbouring country is operating clandestinely in the court of Maria Theresa, or a teenager sneaks into a bar using a false identification card.  This is not an inclusive list, we wanted to give you a few examples to get you started on your way!

The Master of Ceremonies for the Evening

This month the event will be hosted by a member of our writing community, Padraig O’Gorman.  Padraig has published his novel, The Drowning of Innocence.  If you are interested in hosting our open mic night come and see us during the break, we are very nice people, I promise.

The Details

We meet in the basement of Cafe Korb.  To cover the cost of the venue, as this is a collective effort, we ask you to contribute €5 to €10.  Performances start around 19:00, and run for approximately two and a half hours.  However, if you are interested in performing 18:45 is when sign up starts.

Creative endeavours featuring the theme Hidden Identities will be given preference in the performance order.

As this is a joint endeavour between Creative Cafe and Write Now Vienna we have a number of performers.  We ask that you stick to these rough time guidelines so many people get a chance to participate.

  • poetry (max 5 minutes reading time)
  • short story (max 2000 words)
  • novel excerpt (max 1500 words)
  • song (max 5 minutes)
  • stand-up comedy (max 5 minutes)

Bring your stories, songs, comedic acts, novel excerpts, poetry, and whatever else can be written on paper and join us for a fun filled and supportive evening.  We hope to see you there.

Stay tuned for changes coming in November!

June Edition: Open Mic Night

As summer draws closer and the weather gets nicer we find ourselves shedding coats.  In losing these layers we also lose the valuable pocket storage our outerwear provides.  Whether it is the inside breast pocket of a sport jacket or the side pockets of a winter jacket.  All of a sudden, you have no place to conveniently keep your spare change.  And therein lies the inspiration for our theme this month.

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

For the June 21, 2018 edition of our get together, the theme is Happiness.  We will be looking forward to hearing your stories, songs, poems, stand up comedy, and other  creative enterprises in which people are deliriously happy a loved one is coming home, going to their happy place which also happens to be an actual  magical happy place filled with sunshine and rainbows, or happy their ridiculously complicated revenge scheme worked out exactly as planned.  This is not an inclusive list, we wanted to give you a few examples to get you started on your way!

 

The Master of Ceremonies for the Evening

This month the event will be hosted by a member of our community.  If you are interested in hosting our open mic night email us at Write Now or at Creative Cafe, or come and see us during the break, we are very nice people, I promise.

The Details

We meet in the basement of Cafe Korb.  To cover the cost of the venue, as this is a collective effort, we ask you to contribute €5 to €10.  Performances start around 19:00, and run for approximately two and a half hours.  However, if you are interested in performing 18:45 is when sign up starts.

Creative endeavours featuring the theme Happiness will be given preference in the performance order.

As this is a joint endeavour between Creative Cafe and Write Now Vienna we have a number of performers.  We ask that you stick to these rough time guidelines so many people get a chance to participate.

  • poetry (max 5 minutes reading time)
  • short story (max 2000 words)
  • novel excerpt (max 1500 words)
  • song (max 5 minutes)
  • stand-up comedy (max 5 minutes)

We will be publishing the best selections from the evening right here on our blog.  Keep checking back for the latest literary endeavours and to learn about new authors on the scene.

Bring your stories, songs, comedic acts, novel excerpts, poetry, and whatever else can be written on paper and join us for a fun filled and supportive evening.  We hope to see you there.

Workshop: Writing and Performing Short Stories with Turan Ali

A 2 day course to boost your confidence and skills in writing and performing short stories. Whether you are writing professionally already or not, this course is designed to boost confidence and take your writing and performing skills and understanding to the next level.  The theories and practice introduced on the course are applicable to whatever form of story you want to create and perform, but particular emphasis will be on short form stories. This course would be of benefit whether you want to write short stories and deliver them to audiences, or read your work on radio or podcast, or if your job requires you to write and deliver talks to large groups where the ability to tell stories would help tremendously. Most human communication is based on story, usually short form stories, so we all need to master the writing and telling of a good story. The perfoming skills are just as relevant in speaking to small groups as it is with a larger audience. The course tutor is Turan Ali who has almost 30 years of experience in creating stories for the BBC. We think this workshop is the first of its kind in Vienna !

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

A 2 day course to boost your confidence & skills in writing & delivering
SHORT FORM stories to any audience, in ANY MEDIUM

RUN BY INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR/TRAINER: TURAN ALI

COURSE AIM:

  • to build understanding of universal story theory, and its application to short stories
  • to increase the short story writing skills of participants
  • to enhance the story delivery skills and confidence of participants
  • to develop advanced story analysis skills of your own and of other peoples’ stories
  • to particular emphasis to be given to short form stories, for all media

This will be achieved through theory, practice, individual coaching and group analysis.

PARTICIPANTS

As this course involves theory and practice with individual coaching, it is suitable for those at all stages of experience in writing and performing stories. The instructor will enable you to apply the theories to whatever level you are at and progress to higher levels, in the writing, performing and analysis of stories. The course is suitable for people who want to create stories in all media: in print, online, on air (radio, TV, film), or face to face (with individuals or larger audiences), precise focus on short form stories. Sometimes those newer to story writing adopt the theories more quickly and effectively than those who have been writing for a while, so group analysis is one of the effective tools for assessing the progress of our stories and delivery.

COURSE CONTENT

DAY 1 – MORNING– (SHORT) STORY THEORY, PRACTICE AND ANALYSIS

DAY 1 – AFTERNOON– STORY PERFORMANCE THEORY, PRACTICE AND ANALYSIS

BETWEEN DAYS 1 & 2– INDIVIDUAL STORY WRITING COACHING BY EMAIL

DAY 2 – MORNING– THEORY RE-CAP; WRITTEN STORIES ANALYSIS AND FEEDBACK

DAY 2 – AFTERNOON– THEORY RE-CAP; READING YOUR STORIES: ANALYSIS/FEEDBACK

RNTC Turan Ali LR -® Michiel Bles-40

WORKSHOP TUTOR

Turan Ali has been producing, directing and writing stories, drama, comedy and factual programmes for the BBC for nearly 30 years in many genres, on radio, TV, film, in print and online. He is a published author of factual books and articles, and of fiction, and has won awards as an author (screenplay) and as a producer/director (radio programmes). He has performed his short stories on BBC radio, and on stage in many countries. As a trainer he has provided story theory and production training in many genres for broadcast professionals and organisations from over 65 countries. His approach is licensed to international broadcasters. He delivers masterclasses and courses internationally. This is a unique opportunity to acquire this tried and tested theory and practice and apply it to whatever you want to create.

DATE/TIME

The 2 days of the course are:
Day 1: Sunday June 17th 2018 10:00 – 17:00
Day 2: Sunday July 8th 2018 10:00 – 17:00
Attendance on both days is required.

Location: Venue to be announced ASAP – central Vienna

Fee:€225

Copywriting Intensive: Learn the skills you need to get started

Join professional copywriter, Matt Campelli for an exciting intensive weekend workshop to learn the ins and outs of copywriting.

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

Copywriting has its perks. Being paid for creative work that you can do from anywhere in the world (the beach?) sounds like an appealing option, particularly if you’ve fallen out of love with your 9-5. And there’s plenty of work – if you know how and where to get it.

But (there’s always a but), you need to have the skills to deliver what paying clients want. Plus, you’ll have to learn how to position yourself to win customers in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Matt Campelli

Matthew Campelli is a British journalist, editor and copywriter. He is the founder of Sport Sustainability Journal, former Head of News and Content for Leisure Media and has written for The Times, The Independent, Broadcast Magazine and The Blizzard. Matthew was also the Content Marketing Manager and copywriting specialist for SMARTASSISTANT, an Austrian technology start-up based in Vienna.

During this two-day copywriting workshop, you will learn:

  • The essential copywriting toolkit

  • Why stories are crucial for copywriters – and how to use them

  • How to address client pain points

  • What paying clients are looking for, and how to position yourself to win their business

Date: May 12th and 13th , 2018

Time: 2:00-5:00

Location: Türkenschanzstrasse 4/2, 1180

Fee:€120

Open Mic Night: Pockets

As summer draws closer and the weather gets nicer we find ourselves shedding coats.  In losing these layers we also lose the valuable pocket storage our outerwear provides.  Whether it is the inside breast pocket of a sport jacket or the side pockets of a winter jacket.  All of a sudden, you have no place to conveniently keep your spare change.  And therein lies the inspiration for our theme this month.

Photo by Katarina Milosevic on Unsplash

For the May 17, 2018 edition of our get together, the theme is Pockets.  We will be looking forward to hearing your stories, songs, poems, stand up comedy, and other  creative enterprises in which people have holes in their pockets, hide important notes in pockets, or lose things through inter dimensional time pockets underneath their couch.  This is not an inclusive list, we wanted to give you a few examples to get you started on your way!

Special Guest: Adeena Karasick

Adeena Karasick is a New York based Canadian poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist and the author of eight books of poetry and poetics. Her Kabbalistically inflected, urban, Jewish feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard), “proto-ecstatic jet-propulsive word torsion” (George Quasha), noted for their “cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory” (Charles Bernstein) “a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick’s signature ‘syllabic labyrinth’” (Craig Dworkin); “one long dithyramb of desire, a seven-veiled dance of seduction that celebrates the tangles, convolutions, and ecstacies of unbridled sexuality… demonstrating how desire flows through language, an unstoppable flood of allusion (both literary and pop-cultural), word-play, and extravagant and outrageous sound-work.” (Mark Scroggins). Most recently is Checking In (Talonbooks, 2018) and Salomé: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, Italy, 2017), the libretto for her Spoken Word opera co-created with Grammy award winning composer, Sir Frank London. She teaches Literature and Critical Theory for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt Institute, is Poetry Editor for Explorations in Media Ecology, 2017 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. The “Adeena Karasick Archive” has been established at Special Collections, Simon Fraser University.

The Master of Ceremonies for the Evening

This month will be hosted by Tim Lynwood, one of the founding members of Write Now.  If you are interested in hosting our open mic night email us at Write Now or at Creative Cafe, or come and see us during the break, we are very nice people, I promise.

The Details

We meet in the basement of Cafe Korb.  To cover the cost of the venue, as this is a collective effort, we ask you to contribute €5 to €10.  Performances start around 19:00, and run for approximately two and a half hours.  However, if you are interested in performing 18:45 is when sign up starts.

Creative endeavours featuring the theme Pockets will be given preference in the performance order.

As this is a joint endeavour between Creative Cafe and Write Now Vienna we have a number of performers.  We ask that you stick to these rough time guidelines so many people get a chance to participate.

  • poetry (max 5 minutes reading time)
  • short story (max 2000 words)
  • novel excerpt (max 1500 words)
  • song (max 5 minutes)
  • stand-up comedy (max 5 minutes)

We will be publishing the best selections from the evening right here on our blog.  Keep checking back for the latest literary endeavours and to learn about new authors on the scene.

Bring your stories, songs, comedic acts, novel excerpts, poetry, and whatever else can be written on paper and join us for a fun filled and supportive evening.  We hope to see you there.

Everyday Heroes

From his apartment window Thomas followed the movements of a young man lurking about the courtyard. The stranger stopped in front of a bicycle. Not just any bicycle. It was Anna’s white ladybike. Seconds later the bicycle was leaving the courtyard in the hands of an abductor. Thomas stood in disbelief. Anna must have forgotten to lock it. He had to act, and he had to do so in a hurry. The thief was already out of sight. Soon the ladybike would be lost among the countless bicycles of Copenhagen’s concrete jungle.

Thomas was a young man himself, but not a particularly brave man. Yet, there he was, fighting to pull on his Converse sneakers. Anna had done nothing to deserve this – except forgetting to lock her bicycle. “Damnit Anna, why do you never lock that thing”. Remembering that Anna was the victim, he shifted the blame. “No one should steal bicycles in the first place”, he reproached himself. She would be back from vacation in a few days. Meanwhile Thomas had promised to keep things in order. This situation caught him off guard. Sure, he would be forgiven, but would it ever be forgotten if he did nothing? Yes, insurance would cover the material loss, but there was more at stake. He had become involved as a silent witness. Obligated to the well-being of the ladybike. The abductor had pulled him into an unfamiliar vortex. Everything from Danish civil order to the equilibrium of Thomas and Anna’s relationship seemed to be at stake.

Off he went, racing his tired old bicycle up and down the streets of suburban Valby. The only bloody place in Copenhagen with hills. Panting, sweating – where the hell could it be? Searching the neighborhood using no precise method. His eyes flared like a mother whose child has gone missing at a playground. Almost wanting to cry out some name. Hoping to hear in response the ring of the ladybike’s bell. The distress call of an iron damsel in dire straits. In this frantic state of mind, he considered how to handle the abductor if he found him. This was all unchartered territory. He had read that one must display confidence while avoiding conflict escalation. So perhaps a straight face and firm voice coupled with non-aggressive body language? Or was aggression the right way to go? A quick punch on the nose and a kick in the sack, and then a swift escape. The problem was, he mastered none of these skills. He was an avid student of law, but by no measure a scholar of the streets. He would have to play it by ear. That is, if he found the ladybike and her hijacker. He became anxious as the trail grew colder.

And then, there she was. In the corner of a rundown parking lot, in front of the wooden façade of a greasy burger joint. Seven young men stood in a cluster while an eighth rode around them in circles on Anna’s bicycle. They were restless, loud, taunting each other, fooling around. Thomas’ adrenaline skyrocketed. What to do now? The young men had no idea who he was, but this seemed to be his only advantage. Should he call the cops – the protectors of good citizens? Better not. Anna’s bicycle would be long gone before the cops decided to show up. Drenching his mind for a solution he spotted a man in a small Volkswagen Polo.

Tap-tap. The driver-side window rolled down revealing a man with short blonde crewcut hair. His large face stuck itself forward meeting Thomas with an indifferent gaze. “Can you please help me? I… those men over there stole my girlfriend’s bicycle and… I don’t know how to get it back”, Thomas stuttered as he continued to explain his current predicament. The man said few words, but his expression had changed. Staring with bitter contempt at the group of young men he said in a cooled voice, “let me have a little chat with them”. The door opened and from one of the world’s smallest cars stepped out a colossus of a man. He bore a formidable physique, dwarfing Thomas by several heads and twice as wide over the shoulders. He started towards the young men in a mechanical stride, with Thomas following a few steps behind.

“What are you doing riding around on a ladybike?”, the giant demanded. Caught off guard by the sudden disturbance the young men faltered for a second before manning up. All of them now turning towards Thomas and his large associate. Ready to front. A small fellow with a quick tongue stepped up, “What’s it to you? We’re just hanging out. Not bothering anyone”. The man clenched his massive granite jaw. “Don’t play stupid with me or I might get offended. The bicycle belongs to him,” the man said pointing towards Thomas, who felt powerful in the company of his unlikely ally. The young men began muttering in unison and questioning all statements and facts. The Big Man stood unmoved, dismissing their feeble efforts with silent ridicule. On the street he was a professor and they were low grade pupils. “Give me the bicycle” he now commanded in a penetrating voice. The pack froze. Their bodies no longer defiant, they handed over Anna’s bicycle as if they had never wanted it.

Upon return to the shrunken vehicle, the man offered Thomas the ladybike with a self-righteous grin. Thomas returned the grin sheepishly with an over-excited expression of gratitude. Everything had worked out after all, he thought to himself. A few moments later he stood alone on the parking lot with his own bicycle and Anna’s. His protector was gone, and the young men began to move towards him. Time to vacate the scene. Holding onto the ladybike with one hand as he scampered onto his own bicycle, he set off with both in a graceful balancing act.

For a moment he was moving away from a dark horizon towards a magnificent sunrise. And then he crashed. He was shocked and caught under his trusted iron steeds. As he heard the mocking laughs of his pursuers Thomas desperately pulled himself up. The game had changed. Hunter had become hunted, and hunter had left the apartment without considering this crucial part of the operation. The hungry hyenas closed in on him. With a bicycle in each hand Thomas started in no particular direction. His right leg limbering from the crash. There were no people on the streets. On grey Sundays people stay behind walls. He was alone. If the pack ran, they would catch him in no time. For the moment they seemed entertained tiring him through pursuit. In the heat of this mounting pressure he felt his mind react. What he lacked in physical conditioning he made up for in resourcefulness. A MacGyver, without the great hair, relying on his unconventional problem-solving skills to save the day. He scanned the surroundings as he clutched to the ladybike’s handle. Anna’s embedded presence in the iron ladyhorse had a soothing effect. As the young men drew closer, Thomas spotted a lifeline. A scrawny shoe-gazing man in his mid-twenties.

“I know this is going to sound strange”, Thomas gasped, catching his breath before he continued. “But I need your help! Those men are chasing me, and I can’t escape with both bicycles. Please ride one of them home with me?”. The shoe-gazer looked up with surprised eyes. As he glanced past Thomas he saw how the young men were almost upon them. “I-uhh” was all he managed to reply. His mind came to a grinding halt under the weight of the moment. He was a thinker, but there was no time to think. Realizing the other’s deliberation Thomas breathed a heavy sigh. It seemed inevitable that he would lose both bicycles. But then, just in time, the stunned face of his unlikely savior turned from deliberation to determination. “Quick, hand me a bike!” the man yelped. “I am Simon, by the way”, he politely found the time to add. As the pursuers saw their prey trying escape, they launched at them. Thomas and Simon jumped onto the bicycles and put all their weight into the pedals. Suddenly two hands clawed into Thomas’ right arm. For a second, he was a goner, but then with an unfamiliar burst of strength he ripped loose and slipped away. Leaving the young hyenas howling in discontent.

They were free and racing down Valby Bakke. Two beaming faces on wheels, both cherishing a profound sense of some new wonder feeling. As they reached the end of their journey, they each thanked the other for their own reasons. The weight of the experience had set a mark, remolding them in discrete yet definitive ways. Their edges and cuts now that much more noticeable. Themselves assured that they could be sharp if need be. Thomas double locked the bicycles and climbed up the stairs to his apartment. He grabbed a cold one from the fridge and threw himself in the couch, letting go of a deep and content sigh. What a day.

Author: Corbin Entz

Corbin Entz is from Copenhagen, where he studies social anthropology. Having just returned from fieldwork in California he decided to live in Vienna for half a year before finishing his thesis. He is here to write, even though he hasn’t really written much before. A now or never sort of thing.

Open Mic Night: Travelling

The sun is finally shining, the air is warm, and the trees are blooming.  And we are all thinking about where we will take our summer holidays.  We have decided to follow the trend and make this month’s open mic about travelling in all of its forms.  

For the April 19, 2018 edition of our get together, the theme is Travelling.  We will be looking forward to hearing your stories, songs, poems, stand up comedy, and other  creative enterprises in which people take a vacation, walk through their neighbourhood, visit a new planet, or go on an epic journey to deliver an esoteric personal item to a fairy.  This is not an inclusive list, we wanted to give you a few examples to get you started on your way!

This month will be hosted by a community member.  If you are interested in hosting our open mic night email us at Write Now or at Creative Cafe, or come and see us during the break, we are very nice people, I promise.

The Details

We meet in the basement of Cafe Korb.  To cover the cost of the venue, as this is a collective effort, we ask you to contribute €5 to €10.  Performances start around 19:00, and run for approximately two and a half hours.  However, if you are interested in performing 18:45 is when sign up starts.

Creative endeavours featuring the theme Travelling will be given preference in the performance order.

As this is a joint endeavour between Creative Cafe and Write Now Vienna we have a number of performers.  We ask that you stick to these rough time guidelines so many people get a chance to participate.

  • poetry (max 5 minutes reading time)
  • short story (max 2000 words)
  • novel excerpt (max 1500 words)
  • song (max 5 minutes)
  • stand-up comedy (max 5 minutes)

We will be publishing the best selections from the evening right here on our blog.  Keep checking back for the latest literary endeavours and to learn about new authors on the scene.

Bring your stories, songs, comedic acts, novel excerpts, poetry, and whatever else can be written on paper and join us for a fun filled and supportive evening.  We hope to see you there.

The Appalachian Holiness Friendship Connection Tabernacle

She would never understand the god-awful red carpet. The only other place she’d seen carpet like this was in the Funeral Home when her great-grandmother died. Not just the crimson color, but the spongy texture that sunk down with each step. Along with the red stained glass windows and red pew cushions, Kathleen felt like she was inside of a giant human lung. She held her breath waiting for it to collapse.

The singing was over this morning and she sat counting the lightbulbs of the gaudy chandeliers. There were always 24, but this week if the center chandelier fell it would land on Mrs. and Mr. Letonek. Kathleen envisioned herself hurling the couple out of the way just before the chandelier crushed their fragile bodies. This would ensure that Mrs. Letonek would still have a purse full of peppermint candies next Sunday. The Letoneks were sitting in Aunt Bonnie’s usual spot but Aunt Bonnie never had candy and wasn’t her real Aunt anyway, so the chandelier usually landed on her leg or one of her fat arms. Kathleen would try to push her to safety but the weight of her round waist made it impossible and while Kathleen didn’t want blood on her hands, even in her imagination, she knew she couldn’t realistically save Aunt Bonnie entirely.

Kathleen uncrossed her legs and the pew gave a small squeak. She froze, her eyes bouncing to the left waiting to catch her mother’s Medusa stare. A few strands of hair around her mother’s ear was the only movement she detected. She turned her eyes back to Reverend Davis who stood gripping both sides of the wooden pulpit. “The blood of Christ,” he was saying “cleanseth the evil of our hearts and taketh away all evil desires.” Amens were murmured on cue.

For the one hundredth time that day Kathleen looked down at the small diamond ring on her left hand. Joe’s proposal hadn’t been a surprise, but she’d never dreamed he’d buy a ring. Last night they had stood next to his beat up truck in the high school parking lot, she still wearing her white dress and graduation robe, him in his suit and tie. He bent down on one knee and she had to try not to laugh when he winced from the gravel. In his thick rural Pennsylvania accent, he whispered that as they started their adult life, he wanted them to start it together. She knew she loved Joe, but in this moment of deciding to become his wife she felt a mix of
joy, liberation, panic and nausea. Her parents adored Joe. Joe’s dad and her own had been on the same softball team before her mother made her father give it up. And once Joe had been baptised in their church he won over her mother with his polite and quiet steadiness. Joe wasn’t the problem. Their combined 35 years of age wasn’t the problem. The problem was a simple gold band with a small clear diamond.

As Joe drove her home to the white farm house, she turned to him suddenly and said, “Listen, I’m already wearing white, and it’s only 5 O’clock. Let’s just go see the Presbyterian Pastor and get this thing over with.” Joe had laughed. “You know your mum would kill you.” “She’s going to kill me anyway over this stupid ring, so I might as well die a married woman.” Joe laughed again. “Let’s give your folks a chance. They’ll come round.” As she said goodbye to him from the driveway, he had promised to help smooth things over at church the next morning. Still she had stood on the grass in front of the porch, worrying her lip, until finally, she

slipped the ring off her finger and tucked it into the pocket of her sweater before climbing the steps to her front door.

Kathleen felt a tug on her dress and looked down to see her mother’s bony fingers straightening the hem over her knees. Her mother’s gaze never left the preacher’s face as her right hand did the Lord’s bidding. Kathleen turned her eyes back to the pulpit, hoping her mother would leave her be. She had loved this dress last summer. It was a hand-me-down from an older cousin who quickly grew out of it leaving it barely worn. The first time Kathleen had put it on, her sister and mother had raved while she did a twirl for them in the kitchen. Blue and white gingham checks with a large white collar, no sleeves, and a hem that hit well above the knee made her feel like a true 1960s woman. For the month of June she had worn the dress to family picnics, her father’s softball games, and Friday night dinner dates with Joe. She almost took it to summer camp with her, but her mother convinced her of the dangers of grass stain and bonfire smoke. So, she had lovingly hung it in her closet as she packed for her last summer camp before her senior year of high school.

This dress was to be her gateway to womanhood but now here she sat, white cotton sleeves sewn on, ruffles added to the hem, and an extra button at the base of her neck. She felt like a blue gingham nun. The shock from her first seeing the alterations to the beloved dress washed over her again. Joe had dropped her off in front of the familiar farmhouse with her knapsack full of dirty camp clothes and her pillow tucked under one arm. Glad to be home she’d run inside only to find a mother whose short hair had been bobby pinned into a bun at the base of her neck, a father wearing a button up shirt on a Saturday, a younger brother who’d been pulled from the wrestling team, and worst of all, a jeans-loving sister wearing a long skirt, a braid, and pantyhose. Kathleen’s room had been ransacked. Every pair of pants or shorts thrown out. The hems taken out of every dress and several awful long skirts added to her wardrobe. Not even her underwear drawer was safe, seven pairs of nude colored pantyhose sat folded in a neat pile next to her bras.

She had taken the blue gingham atrocity from the closet and sat heavily on the bed. “Listen, Kathy,” came her mother’s voice form the doorway. “What’s done is done.” Her mother explained the family’s recent salvation, baptism, sanctification. Kathleen had stared as these unfamiliar words circled around her. “Likewise,”her mother quoted from 1 Timothy “the women are to dress in suitable apparel with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with gold or pearls or expensive clothing” Kathleen had listened remembering that only a few months before she had focused the family’s new camera on this same woman wearing high-waisted short shorts and a polka dot midriff baring top, smoking a cigarette and leaning against a beautiful Ford Mustang at the county car show. This woman who swore, fought fiercely with her father, and cheated at card games.

“She still cheats at card games.” Kathleen thought glancing at her mother who was nodding her head at whatever Reverend Davis had just said. This morning her mother wore a navy blue skirt that reached almost to her ankles. a white blouse with a high collar and a pale yellow

cardigan with the sleeves pushed up just below her elbows. Somehow, despite the hot June sun, her mother had willed her body not to sweat. Her hair as always was in a tight bun. The other women in the church used bobby pins and hair spray to create waves and volume. Anything that could make a bun more interesting without crossing the line into vanity. Even Mrs. Davis, the preacher’s wife styled her hair with a large poof at her forehead that gave her a good three inches of height. Just past her mother’s profile Kathleen could see her father’s large red nose and thinning hair line. His face gleamed and he used his blue handkerchief to wipe his forehead.

That large forehead and soft blue eyes gave away every emotion. Last night as Kathleen had entered the kitchen her father had been sitting at the kitchen table, his Bible open, wrinkles of concern waving across that forehead. Her mother cleaning as she cooked gave a sharp hello and asked her to set the table. Kathleen timidly took down a stack of plates and as calmly as possible shared her good news without mentioning the diamond ring tucked in her pocket. Her father had let out a whistle and said “Is that right?.” Kathleen knew he was only pretending to be surprised as he wrapped her in a sweaty hug. Her mother slowly took Kathleen’s face in her hands and kissed her on the cheek. “He’ll be a godly husband.” She’d said. Kathleen had basked in this moment of joy knowing the atmosphere of the small kitchen would darken in a moment. She took the ring out and said softly, “I think I’m going to wear this.” She’d had no time to prepare a speech and her words faded out leaving nothing but the sound of summer frogs through the open window. Her father with raised eyebrows had looked quickly at her mother. Kathleen cringed waiting for the explosion of her mother’s raised voice. Waiting for her mother to blame her father who would be left in tears, worried for the salvation of his oldest daughter.

Instead her mother said softly, “Well, you know how we feel about earthly adornment. But you’re old enough to decide and no one else can walk the narrow path for you. It’s between you and God now.”

Kathleen’s memory faded as a soft hymn began to play from the piano. Preacher Davis was calling for those who felt convicted to come forward and kneel at the altar. His voice trembled as he pleaded for the lost sinners. Kathleen felt her mother’s eyes on her and her cheeks went hot. For a moment she felt her back stiffen and meld with the wooden pew, determined to stay in her seat. Her father leaned forward and gave her a reassuring smile. Those blue eyes loving but holding the weight of worry for a lost daughter. As Kathleen stared at her father she felt her body move. She rose and with halting steps made her way down the red carpeted aisle of the small sanctuary.

Kathleen knelt to the ground in front of the alter; her knees resting on the wooden step and grasped the railing that separated herself from the stage. Eyes closed, she held her breath ready for the oppressive weight of guilt. For God’s voice to thunder. For her mother’s bony fingers to pry the gold band from her hand. In the swirl of darkness at the backs of her eyelids

Kathleen began to see a face.Her mother’s sharp featured, but faintly smiling face. “It’s between you and God.” The face said. Kathleen’s shoulders relaxed.

A shadow fell across her closed eyes and she felt the weight of two cold hands on her shoulders. Mrs. Davis, the pastor’s wife, whispered in her soft girlish way, “Kathy, until you take that ring off of your finger, God will never hear your prayers.” Kathleen’s body jerked and her eyes flew open. The smell of hairspray and baby powder wafting in swirl around her. Kathleen looked at this woman wearing a pink and white dress, red hair piled high on her head and a gold watch on her wrist. “Watches tell us the time” her mother had said last year, “they serve a purpose.”

Suddenly unable to focus, Kathleen stood. On both sides of her other sinners were kneeling. An elder of the church had laid his hands on her parents heads and were praying, no doubt, for her own salvation. She turned and looked for Joe. Aunt Bonnie whose eyes were supposed to be closed sat head bowed, staring toward the front. Mr. and Mrs. Letonek were nodding and Amening while giving off the slightest sound of crinkling candy wrappers.

Right then she remembered her white graduation dress hanging in her closet at home.

Author: Heather McEuen
Heather lives and works in Vienna with her husband and dog, Polly Esther.  She hopes you enjoy her writing, but it’s okay if you don’t.  You’ll come around.

Heather was a participant in Paul Malone’s Creative Writing on the Go Creative Writing Workshop in November.

Vienna Writers for Young Readers

Vienna Writers for Young Readers is a brand new group aiming to bring together authors interested in writing for young people, whether that’s picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle-grade fiction or YA novels. Anyone who is currently writing for a younger readership, or who has the ambition of breaking into this particular market, is welcome along to the informal yet informative monthly sessions.

We’ll discuss the current climate of the children’s books industry both in Austria and abroad. We’ll gain inspiration from the best (and maybe worst…) books already out there. And everybody will have the opportunity to share their own current writing within a friendly forum of constructive criticism and advice.

The meetings will be led by Paul Malone – who has published many short stories for children in both The School Magazine (Australia) and Scoop magazine (UK) among others and is the brains behind Creative Café Austria and Creative Writing On The Go; and Keith Gray – award-winning author of over 20 books for young readers including Ostrich Boys, The Runner and You Killed Me! and has edited 2 collections of short stories for teenagers.

Each meeting will be a packed 2 hours. In the first hour the writers are encouraged to bring along a children’s or YA book that they have read recently and can be shared with the rest of the group – what was good about it, what was great about it, was there anything disappointing about it, what can we learn about writing from it? The second half of the meeting will be for the writers to share their own current work-in-progress and receive constructive feedback from the rest of the group.

If you would like to share your work please keep the word count to a maximum of 2000 words and if possible bring along extra copes as handouts.

There is absolutely no obligation to have to speak aloud or share but our whole aim is to create a friendly, relaxed yet professional atmosphere where writers can improve personally and inspire publicly.

All meetings will be held in English.

Our first meeting:

Where: Praxis Wien 5, Rüdigergasse 18/9, 1050 Vienna

When: Tuesday 10th April, 7.00pm to 9.00pm

Email (to register): viennawriters4youngreaders@gmail.com

Cost: between €5 and €10 to cover the venue hire

Text provided by Paul Malone and Keith Gray

Open Mic Night: New Beginnings

Spring is in the air. At least we are telling ourselves the return of the birds and the cold snap Vienna is currently experiencing means the change of seasons is around the corner.  We have decided to celebrate spring and shake off winter by introducing a theme to the Write Now and Creative Cafe Open Mic Night.

For the March 15, 2018 edition of our get together, the theme is New Beginnings.  We will be looking forward to hearing your stories, songs, poems, stand up comedy, and other  creative enterprises in which people start over, get a new job, emigrate to a new country, plant a garden, or rob a grave for the first time.  This is not an inclusive list, we wanted to give you a few examples to get you started on your way!

The host for the night is Young Adult novelist Keith Gray.  Keith is the author of Ostrich Boys, The Fearful, The Last Soldier, and Ghosting amongst others.  He has edited the short story anthologies Losing It and Next.  He wrote about young adult fiction and reviewed new books in The Guardian and The Scotsman newspapers.  Keith has also been a judge on fiction prize panels, including The Guardian Fiction Prize and The Booktrust Teenage Prize.  If you missed the last open mic, Keith led us through anagram puzzles, wore fantastic shoes, and gave us a brief view into the translation of titles.

The Details

We meet in the basement of Cafe Korb.  To cover the cost of the venue, as this is a collective effort, we ask you to contribute €5 to €10.  Performances start around 19:00, and run for approximately two and a half hours.  However, if you are interested in performing 18:45 is when sign up starts.  For those performers who are nervous about getting up on stage, we will be running a short confidence building workshop at 18:15.  

Creative endeavours featuring the theme New Beginnings will be given preference in the performance order.

As this is a joint endeavour between Creative Cafe and Write Now Vienna we have a number of performers.  We ask that you stick to these rough time guidelines so many people get a chance to participate.

  • poetry (max 5 minutes reading time)
  • short story (max 2000 words)
  • novel excerpt (max 1500 words)
  • song (max 5 minutes)
  • stand-up comedy (max 5 minutes)

We will be publishing the best selections from the evening right here on our blog.  Keep checking back for the latest literary endeavours and to learn about new authors on the scene.

Bring your stories, songs, comedic acts, novel excerpts, poetry, and whatever else can be written on paper and join us for a fun filled and supportive evening.  We hope to see you there.