Artists United for Puerto Rico, Cocotazo Audio Theater, and Women Rising

I'll be taking part in Step1 Theatre Project's Artists United for Puerto Rico, a benefit performance of poetry, music, and theatrical pieces. An excerpt from my play Hielo will be featured along with other theatre pieces by Nelson Diaz-Marcano and Desi Moreno-Penson, music by Aquino and Tanya Perez, and poetry by Maria Aponte, Isabel Pask, and Richard Perez. The event will take place on 11/13 at 7pm at The Physics Theater (Times Square Arts Center). There'll be a post-show reception with a live DJ, Coquito Bar, giveaways and a silent auction. All proceeds from the evening will go toward direct relief efforts and distribution of goods on the ground in Puerto Rico. Tickets $20, purchase here.

Can't attend, but want to donate? Go here. For more information on how you can donate and for resources about Hurricane Maria relief and recovery visit this page I've created.

 
 

In other news, I'm proud to announce that the Cooctazo Audio Theatre podcast has been nominated for several Audio Verse Awards! This includes writing, production, music, and acting nominations for my script Hot Drinks. You can vote (here!) in the semi-final round until October 30. (The password is pancakes.) 

This month also marks the return of Women Rising: Stories of Hope produced by Speranza Theatre Company. It runs through 10/29 at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City. You can purchase tickets and find details here.

From Speranza: "WOMEN RISING, Stories of Hope, is a 75-minute original play created by Speranza Theatre Company with the help of our community partner WomenRising.org. Directed by Mikaela Kafka, featuring original music by Drama Desk Nominated composer Estelle Bajou, WOMEN RISING is a compilation of stories written by 7 playwrights under the guidance of lead writer, Jennie Contuzzi." Recommended for ages 15+. Wheelchair accessible.

 
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The Night Bazaar, Continuing the Conversation, Sakura Medal Nomination

 
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Publication news! You can read my short story “Vista Eterna” in the new horror anthology The Night Bazaar: Eleven Haunting Tales of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires, edited by Lenore Hart (Northampton House Press). This is a bewitching collection of short fiction for adults. I’m thrilled to have my writing included along with excellent short pieces by ten other authors. The book is available now through all major online outlets including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Here's what Publishers Weekly said about the collection: “Appealing to those who like their fantasy served with a side of psychological horror, this anthology is sure to entertain.”

On the theatre side of things, Work With Us, a short musical I co-wrote with Michael Aquino (my husband), will be part of Dreamcatcher Rep’s event “Continuing the Conversation: An Evening of Short Plays in Response to the Election” on February 2 at 7:30pm. The evening features readings of eight works written by local playwrights and will be followed by a talk back discussion. Tickets are $20 and benefit the organization Interweave. You can buy tickets here.

One final piece of good news—I learned that Who’s Ju? has been nominated for a 2017 Sakura Medal, which is organized by 22 international schools across Japan. The program encourages students to read books in English and Japanese from lists prepared by library media specialists. It’s an honor to have my work recognized by school librarians in Japan and I love knowing that middle school students on the other side of the world are reading Ju’s story!

Women Rising and the Puerto Rican Book Expo

Speranza Theatre Company’s production of Women Rising: Stories of Hope opens tonight and runs through October 23 in Jersey City. I’m proud to have contributed a monologue for this important project that raises awareness about domestic violence. WOMEN RISING: STORIES OF HOPE Directed by Diana Basmajian Written by Merri Biechler, Jennie Contuzzi, Megan Lohne, Dania Ramos, Lia Romeo, Caren Skibell, DeLora Whitney Starring Larissa Adamczyk, Jason Faust, Laura Gourdine, Vanessa Rappa, Alicia Rivas, Samille Ganges Art House Productions, 136 Magnolia Avenue, Jersey City 10/20 @ 7:30pm; 10/21 & 10/22 at 8pm; 10/23 a@ 2pm For tickets visit: SperanzaTheatreCompany.org. (Recommended for ages 15+)

Next month I’ll be participating in the Puerto Rican Book Expo on Saturday, November 19 from 12:00-7:00pm at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse in the Bronx. Comité Noviembre sponsors this annual event held in conjunction with the National Puerto Rican Artisan Fair and Exhibit. Come get an early start on holiday shopping while showing your support for local artists and authors!

Pennsylvania Writers Conference

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of returning to Wilkes University for the 2016 Pennsylvania Writers Conference. I joined Northampton House Press editor Lenore Hart and author Todd McClimans on a panel about middle grade fiction.

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This summer marks my return to teaching! I've joined Writopia Lab as a creative writing instructor for their New Jersey region. I'm having a blast leading multi-genre writing workshops for children and teens.

Back in May I served as a dramaturg for the 2016 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival where I got to work on scripts written by three talented teen playwrights. As always, Writers Theatre of New Jersey produced a stellar presentation of the winning plays from this year's New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest.

On the writing front, I've been plugging away at 7th Grade Sleuths Book #2 as well as revising a full-length script and a short story.

Until next time...

New Jersey One-Minute Play Festival and Women Playwrights Reading Series

Happy Spring! Last month I participated in the 6th Annual New Jersey One-Minute Play Festival at Luna Stage. I had a couple of short plays staged by New Jersey directors Steven Gaissert and Ted Wrigley and featuring local actors. Always a fun time!

My full-length play Hielo was part of the New Jersey Women Playwrights Reading Series co-presented by Writers Theatre of New Jersey and Speranza Theatre Company at the Jersey City Theatre Center. The reading was directed by Larissa Lury and featured Jersey City actors Alicia Rivas, Jeffrey Sanchez, Jenelle Sosa, and Siouxsie Suarez along with New Yorker Eli Ganias (who’s been in every single developmental reading of the script!) I’d done a pretty significant rewrite this winter so it was great to hear the script with actors once again. The rehearsals, the reading, and feedbackwere all excellent -- I'm excited to do another revision to get the script submission-ready.

I've been busy revising a short story that’ll be published in an anthology later this year. I’m not allowed to spill the beans about it yet, but I can say it's a mix of horror and fantasy. I’m also currently working on the second book of the Seventh-Grade Sleuths series.

Until next time!