Success Story Saturday: Ken Levens

Welcome back to Success Story Saturday.  As often as possible, we’re featuring Writers Forum members who have been published, won writing contests, or have otherwise found recent success as writers.  

Today we celebrate playwright and Writers Forum member Ken Levens for his recent play As You Wish, starring Writers Forum Treasurer, Jennifer Levens.  Writers Forum Program Chair, Sharon Owen, and Writers Forum Membership and Hospitality Chair, Jennifer Higley, are here with all the details.

Shakespeare’s Wife Sets the Record Straight in As You Wish

 by Sharon Owen and Jennifer Higley

Riverfront Playhouse was recently the scene of a laugh-a-minute production of As You Wish, starring Jennifer Levens and Chad MacFarlane.  The two-act, two-character play was written and directed by Ken Levens and ran as a fundraiser during the January 10-12 weekend.

In the production, Levens portrays Shakespeare’s wife,  Anne Hathaway, sent forward in time to set the record straight about her marriage. MacFarlane is a contemporary young American man who fancies himself an expert on Shakespeare. He is simply referred to as American Guy.

Sparks ignite quickly when Mrs. S and American Guy meet and begin a dialogue about The Bard.  The play is a delicious repast of clever one-liners, salted with literary allusions and peppered with zinging puns.

Mrs. S confuses her anagrams, referring to Americans who go “driving around in gas-guzzling STDs.” She berates Walt Whitman, saying his work is “just one long run-on sentence,” and attacks opera, calling it “Italian for death by music.” And the female half of the audience was partial to her quip, “If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle.”

A good quote to describe Mrs. S in a nutshell is, “I don’t cause commotions; I am one!”

The American Guy has his share of keepers, too. Such as, “All you need to know about love is that women are crazy, and men are stupid.” And he refers to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a play in which actors portraying Latin-speaking Romans, actually spoke their lines in perfect renaissance English.

Other quotable quotes:

“Love is not like Bingo–you can win at Bingo.”

“King Lear is a warning about not growing old before growing wise.”

Some of the literature, entertainment, and modern issues discussed by Mrs. S and the American Guy were:  Monty Python, Doctor Seuss, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the bees vanishing, GMO’s, fracking, and Lemony Snicket. Other references included Swift’s A Modest Proposal and the classic movie, Soylent Green.

Mrs. Shakespeare’s period costume was beautifully rendered, with décolletage that left little to the imagination where her ample bosom was concerned. By contrast, American Guy’s casual surfer dude costume looked just right for his character. The actors both projected their voices at ideal volume, neither too loud nor difficult to hear at any point in two hours of speaking.

Altogether, As You Wish  proves that playwright Ken Levens knows his literature, from its birth up to the present day, and knows how to serve it up with humor and wisdom.

Writers Forum members, we want to celebrate with you so please send your success stories to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.  

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Success Story Saturday: Laura Hernandez

Welcome back to Success Story Saturday.  As often as possible, we’re featuring Writers Forum members who have been published, won writing contests, or have otherwise found recent success as writers.  Writers Forum members, we want to celebrate with you so please send your success stories to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.  

Today we’re celebrating with Writers Forum board member Laura Hernandez.  Congratulations, Laura!

New Mystery Writer Wins the 2013 Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship

New York, NY – May 9, 2013 – Mystery Writers of America announces the recipients of the 2013 Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship for Mystery Writing: Laura Hernandez of Redding, CA, and Lee Summerall of St. Petersburg, FL. Each will use her $500 scholarship award to offset tuition for advanced classes to further develop her writing skills.

The talent demonstrated by Ms. Hernandez received one of the highest scores from this year’s panel of judges.  Laura Hernandez worked on a team to defend accused murderers during law school and has written several stories based on her experiences. In her stories, the people in jail accused of murder are not always who you would expect them to be. She found the key to their defense, and the real mystery of each murder trial, was not about who had committed the crime, but why it had been done at all.

The purpose of this annual scholarship competition is to nurture talent in mystery writing. Each candidate qualifies by submitting a mystery-writing sample in the form of the first three chapters of a novel or nonfiction, or three short stories or a script. Candidates also provide details about the educational programs they will attend, 2 letters of recommendation, and an essay explaining their interest in mystery writing. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. No fee is required; neither is membership in Mystery Writers of America.

Applicants are judged by a committee of MWA members, each a published author in the field of crime. This year’s judges are: Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author of 6 White House Chef Mysteries and 3 Manor House Mysteries, most recently Fonduing Fathers and Grace Among Thieves; Randy Rawls, author of 8 mysteries in 3 series, with Hot Rocks as his latest from Midnight Ink featuring South Florida P.I. Beth Bowman; Aileen G. Baron, archaeologist and author of The Gold of Thrace, an international hunt for antiquities thieves, and The Scorpion’s Bite, 3rd in the Lily Sampson archaeological mystery series; and editor Chris Roerden, author of the Agatha Award-winning Don’t Murder Your Mystery and its all-genre edition, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission. The scholarship program chair is Meredith Cole, award-winning author of Posed for Murder and Dead in the Water, and writing instructor at the University of Virginia.

Details and official application form for the 2014 scholarships are posted by July 4, 2013, on the website of Mystery Writers of America, http://mysterywriters.org. For frequently asked questions and tips for applying, email McCloy.MWA@gmail.com. Entries must be postmarked by February 28, 2014.

Success Story Saturday: Steve Brewer

Welcome to a new Writers Forum feature, Success Story Saturday.  As often as possible, we’ll be featuring Writers Forum members who have been published, won writing contests, or have otherwise found recent success as writers.  Writers Forum members, we want to celebrate with you so please send your success stories to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.  

Today we’re celebrating with former Writers Forum member, Steve Brewer.

a6d4d50c49960a7f0235be.L._V152738098_SX200_Former Writers Forum board member Steve Brewer recently signed a three-book deal with Alibi, the new mystery imprint at Random House.  The crime trilogy is set in Albuquerque, NM, where Steve now lives.  The books will be published under his new pen name, Max Austin, which comes from his two sons’ names.  First in the trilogy, DUKE CITY SPLIT, will be published in April.  Steve’s agent, Doug Grad, landed the three-book deal, working with Alibi editor-in-chief Dana Isaacson.  Random House also has an option on Steve’s next book after the trilogy.
In recent years, Steve’s vigorously pursued the self-publishing route, via both e-books and CreateSpace paperbacks (all available at Amazon), but he’s thrilled to be working with a big New York publisher again.
Congratulations, Steve!