Saturday, May 26, 2012

Second Saturday Art Night Draws Authors Downtown

Photo by Joe McGarity




This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by All About Books, now located in downtown Redding on Court Street.  All About Books.

Art is on display in Redding every month on the Second Saturday Art Night.  You can meet local authors at All About Books on Court Street in Redding.  The Fantom Penguin asked bookstore owner and published author, Richard S. Lucas which came first the books or the bookstore?

“The writing came first.  I started that back around 1998.  The first books I did were e-books published in Canada and then the paper publishing, my first one, Four Paths to Forever, came out a year after we had opened the first location of our bookstore in 2002.”

Isn’t it difficult to become a writer?

“Well, actually I think it’s quite easy to become a writer.  It’s hard to become a published writer.  Big difference there.  I don’t really have any specific thing that keyed me into writing.  I had done some in high school.  I had done poetry a little bit when I was younger.  And at one point the story just started to form.  I said, ‘So let’s try writing this.’  I didn’t have any official education in writing, no formal training so I just started a story and as people read what I was writing they decided that I could put a pretty good story together and it’s just kind of gone along like that since.  I get an idea and away I go with it.”

But what about getting it published?

“Well the very first ones I did them through a Canadian e-book publisher around 2000.  It was actually probably ahead of their times, so it was easy to get that into an e-book format.  It didn’t do very well and that publisher went out of business a couple years after I had released my first one, but it gave me a kind of an idea what could happen there.  Paper printing is a whole lot different.  I think most novelists like I am end up going a self-published or joint-venture publishing way, where you pick up some of the cost and the publisher picks up some of the cost and you work on marketing.  It’s not a traditional package where they pay for everything.  That is very difficult to get these days.”

Second Saturday previously was called the Art Hop.  It was run by a few of the local art businesses in the area.  They eventually gave up on it so the Shasta County Arts Council has taken it over.  At this point there are 14 businesses in town.  We do local authors.  The other ones do local artists, music venues, some performing arts and it’s to help promote both the local businesses and to help promote local artists of all types.”

Isn’t helping other artists like helping your own competition?

“I don’t see it as a competition.  I’m sure some might.  I think that as hard as it is to get recognized as a writer and as expensive as it can be to be recognized as a writer, we’re just giving them an opportunity to get their names out on a local level, to meet more people in the business, maybe more writers, more artists and just start to network that way at no cost to them.”

What about your own books?

“The first book was Four Paths to Forever and it’s an archeological adventure based on a Hopi Indian legend of the Sipapu which was their gateway to the inner world where they say the first people came from and it’s a modern-day archeological search for that gateway.  I then wrote the sequel, Beyond Forever:  Journey to Tulmic, which was the story of what happened when they found that gateway and what they found on the other side.  My next one was a shift, Abrigor:  The First Battle, which was a modern-day Christian-based fantasy about demon fighters, four people brought together by God, trained by the angels to fight in combat against demons and I’m now currently working on the sequel to that.  And then my latest one, Ice Queen, is another archeological adventure, a new set of characters following an image that started in China 3,000 years ago and ends up in Peru and how they link that together.  What I try to do in my novels is put in a little bit of a factual base.  All the archeological information (or most of it) is true and then I form the story around those.”

“There’s a huge pool of talent in the area and unfortunately, I think being in the north end of the state, they don’t get the media coverage that they could if they were in a big metropolitan area.  That why we decided, myself being an author, decided it was worth trying to get the word out there for people to see what’s available from the local people and we’re getting some interest.  We had, as you know, we had the store up on Lake Boulevard that we just closed for eleven years and saw very little interest in the local writers, but in the three months that we’ve been here people come and look at this display behind me all the time.  And so they’re excited to see it and they’re excited to see a bookstore downtown again.”

“With the Saturday Art Night, our focus is, of course, local authors but we also promote local artists and as anyone comes in and walks around the store, they’ll see art on the walls from . . . I think currently we have five different artists, one potter.  We’re trying to give the artists . . . and we tend to lean to what I consider ‘urban art’; that’s probably not an official term, but the younger artists, more free-flowing type things, we try to give them an avenue and a place for them to show their stuff.  Hopefully people come in and of course visit with our authors but look at what some of the local artists are doing also.”

Listen to the Podcast 
Purchase Richard S. Lucas' Books 
 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Roller Girls on Roller Girls

Photo by Joe McGarity

Listen to the Podcast




This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by TraderPenguin.com, an online book and music store focusing on creators in the Northstate, TraderPenguin.com


Roller Derby continues to pick up speed in the Northstate.  The Fantom Penguin talked to Skater Relations Liaison, Lea White who goes by the skater name, Laya Out.

“We started as the Angry Beavers.  We actually started as a sister of the Nor Cal Roller Girls which skate out of Chico because we didn’t have a venue at that time nor did we have enough girls to form a team of our own, but we tried to with about four or five girls in 2006 or 2007.  I started hanging around a couple of the girls that were skating and they were commuting to Chico for practices and I couldn’t start then because I didn’t have the time to commute to Chico, but as soon as they got in at Big League, which I believe was the end of 2006 - 2007, I started skating here.”

The Fantom Penguin also spoke with Head of PR, Scarz O’ Fury, Brenda Scarbrough.

“Redding Roller Girls is our league name.  We have two teams under the league name.  We have the Angry Beavers and the Rolling Dead.”

“With our team we’re always changing.  We’re always improving.  We have a lot of boot camps that we do.  We bring in nationally ranked skaters to train and condition us.  We travel a lot.  This year the Angry Beavers went to Bakersfield to do an invitational, which was kind of a big deal for us.  And we’re just always adding new skaters to the sport.”

Laya Out:  “A couple years ago we started getting involved with Think Pink.  It’s a really good cause for someone like a roller derby team to be involved with because it’s a disease that affects women primarily and so we get involved with Think Pink.  We go out early in the morning and we hand out the bags of goodies and we have calendars printed to go in those bags, hand out carnations at 5:00 in the morning, so it’s kind of, you know . . . but we do it.  And usually once a year in October we have a bout that is our breast cancer bout.  We call it the Beavers for Boobies Bout and we’ll have breast casts done of some of the team players and auction them off and then give all the proceeds to Think Pink.”

“And then we also lost a dear friend and teammate to diabetes two years ago, Princess Slaya.”

“And she passed away, so we ended up having a bout to benefit a local diabetes cause here in town, so that was cool too.  And there’s a lot of things.  We did an Alzheimer’s walk last year.  Anything that we can do to give back to the community we want to do.”

Scarz O’ Fury:  “We do Blood Source.  We have also participated with Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  We’ve helped the Salvation Army with their yearly Christmas kettle drive.  We’re always looking for new outlets for us to get plugged in with the community.”

Laya Out:  “The sport itself is kind of hard to understand sometimes because so many people will say, ‘Okay, where’s the ball?’ or ‘Where’s the puck?  What’s the point of this?’  A lot of people don’t understand that the jammer is the one that gets the points and the jammer gets a point for every opponent that they legally lap.  So when they go through the pack, every person that has a different color jersey than she does, if she gets around them legally without knocking them over illegally or something like that, then that’s a point.  So that’s how that works.  I think that another misconception about roller derby is that we’re not athletes.  We are athletes.  We work really hard.  We train really hard.  Most girls do other types of athletic activities to make sure that they can do this sport.  It’s not as easy as it looks.  It’s really difficult to get on skates and do what we do.”

“What’s great about derby is that all the women that are a part of this are either students or moms or teachers.  They all have their everyday lives that they take care of and this is their love.  This is what we love to do for ourselves.  It’s a really great sport for girls to be involved with for themselves.  But we’re definitely not mean people or going to beat anybody up.  That’s just who we are when we’re skating.”

Scarz O’ Fury:  “I think a lot of people, especially the older people remember roller derby from the Sixties and Seventies where it was just an all out sport, a lot of elbows, a lot of pushing, shoving.  There’s a lot more rules and regulations.  There’s a lot of strategy that we do.  There is a point to the game.  It’s not just all out skate hard and knock girls over.  There is a point-scoring system.”

Laya Out:  “It’s amazing how into derby our fans get.  They love roller derby.  They love to watch it.  They love to be involved in it.  They like to fill positions like NSO’s, reffing, I mean any way people can be a part of it.  They hold signs up.  They love us.  After a bout there’s nothing better than a little girl coming up to you and asking you for your autograph you know, because you don’t feel like your anything like special or wonderful.  This is just what I love to do.  But then when a little kid asks you to sign, it’s wonderful because it really does inspire some people out there to be strong women, to be independent women, to do something that you love for yourself.  So yeah, that’s where our fans come from.”





Saturday, May 12, 2012

Local Horror Novelist Longs to be a Comedy Writer

Photo by Joe McGarity



This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Cal’s Books, Redding’s Oldest Bookstore, Cal’s Books.

Your locally owned bookstores are still best place to find local authors.  It was at Cal’s Books on Westside Road in Redding that the Fantom Penguin met local author, Ray Garton.

“My first novel was published in 1984.  It had sold the year before and I was about . . . I think I was 20 years old when it sold and since then I’ve done 63 novels, novellas, short story collections.  I’ve done movie and TV tie-ins, young adult books under the name Joseph Locke, mostly horror, but some thrillers and crime novels, that sort of thing.”

Why horror?

“I usually answer that question by saying that I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist.  I was hooked on horror when I was very little; I started watching Dark Shadows.  The first horror movie I ever saw was 13 Ghosts, the original 13 Ghosts.  It hooked me early and I’ve stayed hooked.  I enjoy stories that are grounded in reality but that have some sort of supernatural or twisted threat or menace.  I like horror because it’s a lot like comedy.  Originally I wanted to be a comedy writer.  My dream when I was a boy was to be Rob Petrie when I grew up, which was the character played by Dick Van Dyke on the Dick Van Dyke Show.  He was a comedy writer and wrote jokes for the Alan Brady Show and that’s what I wanted to do, but I ended up writing horror which seems odd but the two aren’t that far apart.  They both rely on surprise and shock and they also both rely on the misfortune of others.  It’s just that the outcome is different.  Comedy laughs at the misfortune of others and horror uses it to frighten you but they’re very similar.”

“I try to set a book in as real and believable a setting as possible.  I don’t think horror works unless the characters are believable familiar people that you have met or who are like people you’ve met or know and they need to have real problems, familiar recognizable problems that we all share.  And then you throw in something like a werewolf or a vampire or a ghost.  I like to make my characters likable and then do terrible things to them.”

“I grew up pretty much in fear.  Everything was scary to me because of the religion in which I was raised.  It’s a very apocalyptic religion and I lost sleep as a boy over the coming time of trouble and the end of the world and so horror seemed like a relief to me.  I was afraid of everything so horror engaged me and it made being frightened fun and that appealed to me because I was frightened most of the time anyway and it wasn’t fun.  Horror kind of made it enjoyable.”

“I had met an agent through a girlfriend’s family.  A girlfriend of mine, her family knew a guy who was an agent and they introduced me.  And I showed him some short stories and he said he couldn’t sell short stories, but did I have a novel?  And I said, ‘Yes, I have a novel.  I’m half-way done and I’ll send it to you as soon as it’s finished.’  And that was a lie, of course, because I didn’t have a novel at all.  So I quickly wrote Seductions, sent it to him and he sold it almost immediately.  There were no rejections.  There wasn’t the long struggle.  But it’s balanced out because things have gotten harder as the years have gone by.  It’s harder for me to sell something now than it was back then partly because in 1984 the horror genre was huge.  It was very popular in publishing.  There were horror novels everywhere.  Publishers were buying all the horror they could find.  And I was in the right place at the right time and my book sold very easily.  Now horror isn’t what it used to be.  In publishing they don’t even use the word.  So it’s a little harder to sell that genre which is why I’ve been branching out in other genres, but I got lucky very early on and lately I’ve been paying for it.”

“The publishing business has changed so much now with e-books, print-on-demand and it’s not the business it used to be.  It’s almost like I woke up one day and I had to start over again from the beginning.”

What other types of books have you written?

“I’ve written some thrillers.  My most recent novel is Meds and it’s a thriller about a prescription drug that has deadly side effects that are concealed by the manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company.  The book before that was Trailer Park Noir, which is a thriller set in a trailer park.  I have a comedy that hasn’t been published yet called Dismissed from the Front and Center about my two years at a Seventh Day Adventist boarding academy.  And I’ve written crime novels, noir fiction like Loveless and Murder was my Alibi, Trade Secrets.  Those are all thrillers.  Sex and Violence in Hollywood, that’s my favorite of all my works and that’s actually a comedy/thriller, sort of a combination of the two.  I wrote one science fiction story that I wasn’t fond of.  It got published.  Science fiction is not my genre, but I’d like to get more humorous.  I’d like to do stuff that’s funny and maybe fulfill that Rob Petrie dream of mine.”





Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shasta Caverns Receives National Recognition

Photo by Joe McGarity



This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Legacy Medical Equipment and FreedomAlert, the only Personal Emergency Response System with No Monthly Fees.  www.LegacyMedicalEquipment.com   
            
Just to the north of Redding and Shasta Lake City lies one of the Northstate’s most unusual natural wonders, recognized as such recently by the National Park Service.  But what exactly is being honored and why?  The Fantom Penguin asked Matthew Doyle, General Manager of Lake Shasta Caverns.

“The caves themselves are approximately 250 million years old and there are two processes within the caverns themselves.  The first, of course, is the hollowing-out stage, which is basically by the force of water.  Water basically creeps in through the cracks and crevices of limestone rock, which this whole mountain range is made out of, and creates small cavities.  There’s a reason they call it a cave.  And then from there we have the filling-in stage.  That’s where we get the most precious part of it, the speleothem or the cave formations.  It is that calcite that’s precipitated throughout the cave that actually creates your stalactites, your stalagmites, helictites and about, well in this cavern we have about 32 different, separate formations that you can see on the tour.”

“This is a limestone solutional cave.  The ones that you see out in Modoc County and over in Lassen County, those are volcanic caves, so there are different types of caves.  We have ice caves.  Of course, this one is a limestone solutional cave which is the most common and it doesn’t necessarily have to be limestone.  It could be a number of different soluble rocks or sedimentary rocks that can create caves.”

“The designation that we received was the National Natural Landmark designation.  That’s very important for us because of a number of reasons.  Anybody can say they have the best hotel, the best restaurant or in our case the best caves.  What this is actually saying is the National Park Service, a federal agency, has said we have the most extraordinary example of a limestone solutional cave within our region.”

“The caves and about 40 acres surrounding the caves are privately owned and run through a corporation called Lake Shasta Properties, Inc.  Now our main gift store and our main picnic area, that is leased from the Forest Service but we do pay the Forest Service for that.  Other than that, everything we do pride ourselves in is the fact that our customers give us the money.  We do not take any federal grants, any type of grants whatsoever, whether it’s city, federal, state.  We bring it back in from our customers.  Everything you see from the buses to our boats to the handrails to the uniforms that we wear, that’s all from our customers.  So, it’s very important for us to portray that to our customers and make sure that they have an educational and very informative visit to the caverns.”

“Although we do have the availability for grants from the government due to this NNL, we’re still going to stay away from that only because we do pride ourselves in being able to appease our customers and make sure they have a worthwhile visit.  But the biggest thing about the NNL is that it’s going to spur tourism within Shasta County, not only Shasta County but Shasta Lake, Redding, the whole Northstate of California.  For every family that comes up just to visit us because it’s an NNL, that means there’s more people that are going to be spending a night at a hotel, eating at a local restaurant like Jack’s, visiting some of the culture that Redding has to offer.”

“We’re actually members of the National Cave Association which is a very elite group of show cave ownership and managers.  They have very strict guidelines as far as conservation and stewardship of the caves, so we’re very proud to be a part of that group.  I actually sit on one of the boards there and a couple of committees of that.  Now the big thing about caves is every single one of them is like a fingerprint.  Every single one of them is different and every single one of them has something a little bit different to offer.  So, we’re just part of a family that can add a little something unique to the whole thing.  Of course here in the United States this is the only cave tour that has a bus associated with it as well as a boat.  We are geographically landlocked.  We’re not your typical, ‘the cave is right outside the gift store’.  It takes actually about a half hour from our gift store to reach the cavern entrance.”

“A large reason that we have such large numbers coming through here at the caverns is because of the local economy, is because of the local word-of-mouth advertising that we do get.  So of course we pay that back through a various number of events that we do throughout the year, anything from C.A.S.T. for Kids, which is Catch a Special Thrill for Kids put on by the BLM and it’s for special needs kids, whether it’s physical or developmental handicaps, we take them out on the boat, go fishing for a day.  In a couple of weeks, we have a 3rd Grade fishing trip with the Forest Service.  We take them out for a free fishing day; take them out and just have a blast, hot dogs and hamburgers, all the way to the ‘Tis Your Season event with Salvation Army where we have food drives.  Last year we made I think it was 300 lbs. of fudge and doled it out to those who donated back to the Salvation Army.”

“It’s one of the unique areas, not only that -- it’s exploration.  It’s getting back out there in Nature.  We’ve all been tied to our Smart Phones, our PS3’s, a number of different technological devices.  We need to get back out there and really explore a little bit more and be active.  Get outdoors.  Enjoy it.  We have, as far as I’m concerned, one of the biggest gems here in Northern California that there is to offer and it’s right in your backyard.”

Lake Shasta Caverns is open all year.  You can probably just show up and get on the next tour, unless it’s a busy holiday.  To book in advance call 1 (800) 795-CAVE or go to the website at www.LakeShastaCaverns.com.