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Since Gadfly Theatre Productions has announced it on their website, my one-act play Out of the Woods: A Tale of Red, the Wolf, and the Woodcutter will be produced as part of their Final Frontier Festival: Fairy Tales.

Here is the link to their actor/technician call. http://www.gadflytheatre.org/auditions-and-submissions.html

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Where I will be this weekend at MarsCon. As always, things can change quickly.

Friday, March 3:

5:00-5:50 p.m., Krushenko’s. Panel: Anne McCaffrey and the Dragons of Pern
Posthumous GOH Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011) produced a large and diverse body of science fiction and fantasy. We’ll survey her several series, with special attention, owing to this year’s convention theme, to the Dragonriders of Pern series, featuring lizards that are sentient species genetically engineered to bond with human riders. We’ll also look at how her various series have influenced both science fiction and fantasy.
With: Eric M. Heideman, mod.; Rick Gellman, Michael Merriam, Polly Jo Peterson

Saturday, March 4:

11:00-11:50 a.m., Re(a)d Mars. Massive Literary Autographing II
With: Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Rob Callahan, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan

1:00-1:50 p.m., Krushenko’s. Panel: Western Women of Page and Screen
While there is a tendency to look upon the Western as a male genre, frontier women have contributed greatly to Western history and to Western fiction, movies, and TV. We’ll share enthusiasm about some of our favorites.
With: Eric M. Heideman, mod.; David Christenson, Michael Merriam

4:00-4:50 p.m., Krushenko’s. Discussion: SF Writing Groups: The 2017 Scene
Since 1986 the Minnesota Imaginative Fiction Writers’ Alliance has hosted an annual meeting at a local SF convention, first Minicon, then CONvergence, now MarsCon, at which representatives of science fiction/fantasy writing groups talk about how their groups got started and how they function; after which the group representatives go into a huddle with writers who are looking for an SF writing group.
With: Eric M. Heideman, convenor; Michael Merriam

10:00-10:50 p.m., Re(a)d Mars. Reading: Michael Merriam
Local author Michael Merriam reads from his latest works and publications.

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I want to talk with you more about my previous post concerning the homeless couple having sex in the Uptown Transit Station.

Yes, the story was amusing. Yes, the story had a WOW! factor. Yes, the story was a bit shocking. Yes. All of that.

But as entertaining and amusing as the story is, it is also a story filled with terrible pathos. These are real people in this story, people who are barely hanging on, or maybe not hanging on at all: people who are homeless and hungry and cold and sick and possibly mentally ill. People who find themselves needing to trade their bodies for food or a shower or a warm place to sleep because their bodies might well be the only thing they have left to trade.

And there are no angels in this. When I read this to my Beloved Spouse, she pointed out that people don’t usually talk to each other at the transit station or bus stops, especially not Minnesotans. Yet here they are, engaged in conversation, stressed and strained, trying to ignore what is happening just a few feet away, trying to ignore not only the couple copulating, but also Stan and Tim, both of who are also obviously on the fringe of our society.

Maybe some of them, like me, thought about doing something. But embarrassment and being unsure what to do stopped me, and as someone pointed out in a comment about the story over on Facebook, “Face it, this scene is a perverse testament to Minnesota Nice, but underneath people were probably seething. The masked revulsion, shame, and self-justifications for doing nothing must have been eating away at all the commuters.”

There is so much truth in this statement. I thought about calling St. Stephens Street Team, but I didn’t, and once it seemed like they were all going to be someplace warm and with food and a measure of safety that night, I went on about my own business when my bus rolled up because I had the privilege, the money, the mental health, the ability and skills, even in this broken body of mine, to go to the store and buy cheese.

And those four people at the Transit Station – they don’t. It’s important to remember that. It is important to remember that these four human beings are vulnerable, pushed to edge. They are the kind of people we look past, that have become invisible to society.

I don’t have any answers. I barely have the right questions. But I would implore you and I to remember to be kind, to witness for them, to not let them be invisible.

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Rehearsals! Every Day! We open in 8 days! Tech rehearsal is in 6 days. OMG!

Unsafe at any Speed - Final Image

Bryant-Lake Bowl
810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Visit the Show Page at the MN Fringe Website to Reserve Tickets!

I will be giving five performances of my newest one-person show “Unsafe at Any Speed.” This show offers tales of my adventures on public transit and takes a cold, hard look at my checkered past as a driver, all filtered through the lens of living with a disability that forces you to turn in the key while dealing with America’s Car Culture.

Performance Schedule
8/4/2016 7:00 PM
8/6/2016 10:00 PM
8/7/2016 5:30 PM
8/11/2016 7:00 PM
8/14/2016 7:00 PM

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Coming this August to The Minnesota Fringe Festival –

Unsafe at Any Speed

From muscle car driver to blind public transit user, Michael Merriam shares funny and poignant personal stories of transition through our car culture, via a levitating Oldsmobile, a bus fire, and being buried alive.

Unsafe at any Speed - Final Image

Photo by Sonya Leigott Honaker with slight alterations by Kevin McIntyre.
Show Description by Sherry L.M. Merriam with slight alterations by Michael Merriam

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All I want to do is work on my art: writing, storytelling, my fringe show, but our culture’s devaluation of art and unwillingness to pay artists a living wage forces us to chose, and that choice is: create art or eat and have a roof over your head. In the face of art consumers thinking they shouldn’t need to actually pay for art and that artist’s should somehow survive while creating art for art’s sake, artists find themselves forced to stop creating in order to have any financial security. ‪#‎artistchoices‬

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I was asked to put together a list of the various theater and spoken-word things I have going on this summer. It’s a pretty busy schedule for me, and I am pretty pleased.

American Underground:
Saturday, May 28th – 6pm to 8pm
Clubhouse Jager, 923 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Visit the Facebook Event

I will be on stage for 15 minutes, telling either an excerpt from my upcoming MNFringe show, or possibly a condensed version of the show, or maybe something else entirely.

***

Gadfly’s Final Frontier Festival: Heroes and Villains:
June 3rd through June 12th – Times and Dates Below
Phoenix Theater, 2605 Hennepin Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Visit the Facebook Event

This is the world premiere of my short play “At the Edge of Flight.” There are three performances as part of the festival. I plan to attend closing night, so June 11th at 7:00 pm. If you can’t go with me that night, please please go ahead and see the other performances. Go see the whole festival, in fact.

SET A:
At the Edge of Flight by Michael Merriam
Directed by: Cassandra Snow
The Further Adventures of… by Kathleen Warnock
Directed by: Meggie Grievell
Your Princess is in Another Lair by Eli Effinger-Weintraub
Directed by Denzel Belin

SET B:
Slut by Nicole Jost
Directed by: Shalee Coleman
The Amazing Cunt and Lil’ Bitch Take Minneapolis by Katy Koop
Directed by Megan Lembke

Performance Dates:
June 3rd, Set A, 7:30 P.M.
June 4th, Set B, 7:30 P.M.
June 5th, Set A, 3:00 P.M.
June 10th, Set B, 7:30 P.M.
June 11th, Set A, 7:30 P.M.
June 12th, Set B, 3:00 P.M.

***
The Not-So Silent Planet:
Tuesday June 21st – 8pm to 10pm
Kieran’s Irish Pub
85 North 6th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Visit the Website

I will be the featured storyteller at this speculative fiction open mic event. I will be telling a new piece I am writing just for this show. Ghost Trains! Hover Buses! Colliding Timelines!

***
Minnesota Fringe Festival:
Bryant-Lake Bowl
810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Visit the Fringe Website

I will be giving five performances of my newest one-person show “Unsafe at Any Speed.” This show offers tales of my adventures on public transit and take a cold, hard look at my checkered past as a driver, all filtered through the lens of living with a disability that forces you to turn in the key while dealing with America’s Car Culture.

Performance Schedule
8/4/2016 7:00 PM
8/6/2016 10:00 PM
8/7/2016 5:30 PM
8/11/2016 7:00 PM
8/14/2016 7:00 PM

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Director Cassandra Snow posted a photo from rehearsal of the show I wrote and she is directing. I am super excited!

To quote Cassandra: “Some lovely lady lovin between our protagonist Melissa Ballister (Valerie Borey) and Nurse Summers (Anna Lakin) in rehearsal for At The Edge of Flight.

Edited to Add: Cassandra tells me the photo and quote are credit Edie Rose, Gadfly’s Social Media Manager. Thank you, Cassandra and Edie!

13174222_754315070447_4597506113466730406_n

More information about the Final Frontier Festival: https://www.facebook.com/events/965263570223740/
More information about Be Our Hero – Eat Pizza!:
https://www.facebook.com/gadflytheatreproductions/
Buy your tickets and support local writers, artists + directors:
http://finalfrontierhandv.brownpapertickets.com/

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I’ve been sitting on this news for awhile, but now it is official. My script “At the Edge of Flight” is being produced by Gadfly Theatre Productions as part of the Final Frontier Theatre Festival: Heroes and Villains.

I am super pleased.

From the Gadfly Website:
At the Edge of Flight
by Michael Merriam
Directed by: Cassandra Snow
Melissa Ballister used to be known as the superhero Ball Lightning until a tragic stroke takes away her power of flight. Now she spends her time in a government funded nursing home for retired superheroes while seeing her old team continue fighting crime without her. That is, until a new nurse arrives with an offer from a mysterious shadow organization…

Facebook Event

Gadfly Theatre

Twenty-One

Apr. 12th, 2016 12:30 pm
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I am pleased to announce the podcast publication of my YA SF/Horror piece “Twenty-One” at Cast of Wonders podcast.

Pleased, I say!

Episode 204: Twenty-One by Michael Merriam

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Being a working artists is like this:
You’re standing there with one foot hanging out in the open air,
hovering over a dark, terrifying void below.
Your other foot is on a banana peel.
And that banana peel is on a high wire.
And that high wire is greased slick.
And there is a gale force wind blowing in your face.
And you don’t have a safety net, just that dark yawning void under your foot.
So your’re standing there with one foot in the void and the other on a greased high wire and banana peel, battered by hurricane force winds…
And then…and then you take a step forward.
Because you’re a working artists and that’s your job.

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So the subject of Patreon keeps coming up around me: various authors running Patreons to allow them to write a short story a month, or make videos of them reading, a poem a week; all kinds of creative ideas. Typically those who pledged money get to enjoy the art first before the author sends the work out into the world and to the general public.

I’ve been asked multiple times over the last couple of months if I am or possibly considering starting a Patreon of my own.

I have thought about it, but the answer is: No.

I like the idea behind Patreon, but it doesn’t seem like it would work for someone without a national platform to start with. I’ve seen lots of writers with that platform barely manage pledges equaling up to a $1000 a month in exchange for the writer writing one short story a month for the patrons, or putting out novel chapters. If you could get 1000 people to pledge $1 a month, it will work, sure and it would rock to be able to just write all day every day.

Except that I’m not at all sure I could get $100 pledged and then I would be doing the extra work of creating exclusive content for my patrons for that $100 a month. This isn’t actually worth me doing, because I wouldn’t have the extra free time $1000 a month buys, but I’d still be pledged to create extra content. I worry I’d be making a ton of more work for myself without getting enough financial gain.

Now, I could be reading this wrong, but even well-known national authors can barely get to the $1000 a month total pledges point, and I figure I’d need at least $750 to make it work.

It really does run on the 1000 True Fans model for writers.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have 20 True Fans.

So no.

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Yeah, so Minnesota Fringe Festival Lottery. That’s a thing that happened. And my ping-pong ball was selected. I’m in the Fringe this year, and I got in the good way, with lots of time to prepare.

Yesterday I managed to carve out some writing time, so I was beginning the brainstorming process for my Fringe show, looking to maybe set a basic outline and start gathering material and thoughts. I turned on the Television for background noise, and there on TPT was Kevin Kling’s “Lost and Found.”

Now, the show I’m writing, tentatively tittle “Unsafe At Any Speed” is about going from able-bodied to disabled and going from being a driver to a rider of public transit in a country that has a deep seated car-culture and is at times openly hostile to public transit and it’s users.

So I’m working on this show, listening to another with one ear, and Kevin looks at me through the screen and says, “Storytelling is how we deal with loss.”

Thanks. Thanks for cutting to the heart of matter for me. and thanks for all the feels.

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Despite the single digit temps, I went out today and wrote, getting away from the house for a time. I didn’t pay much attention to how long “Ghosts Of The Place You Live” is becoming, just allowed myself to write whatever the story needs to be complete.

When I got home, though, I found the entire novel is 1000 pages and 168,000 words long. I should probably break the document down, since long MSWord documents tend to corrupt.

Anyway.

The plus is that I am nearly done with this draft of the never ending novel. Or novels. I am already thinking about how to structure the novels, interweaving the 2 major and 3 minor timelines of the novel. To tell you all the truth, I am ready to be done with this project, which I started over 2 years ago. I am ready to move on to something else.

Barn Door in sight. Giddy-up.

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I needed to run errands today in the Miracle Mile area of St. Louis Park (UPS Store, Wells Fargo, Half-Priced Books, Trader Joe’s) so I wanted to stop somewhere in the area and write. The Caribou down there is a postage stamp that is always full. Dunn Bros and Village Coffee are both long closed. I tried McDonalds, but it was packed with screaming kids. So off to my least favorite coffee place, Starbucks.

As usual, it was crowded. As usual I was stuck with the uncomfortable bar stool seating to find a power outlet. I didn’t stay long. But I did make this observation: Everyone in the Starbucks was younger, prettier, and skinnier than me and they were all using Macbooks of some kind.

I felt like a walrus with my large aging disabled body and giant black bullet-stopping Thinkpad. I think in the future when I need to run errands in that area I will just skip trying to write that day.

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I generally don’t do New Years resolutions, but I do like to set a few goals for myself every year. To that end–and to help keep me accountable–I’ve made the following Goals For 2016, only one of which I do not have complete control over.

1. Finish the novel “Ghosts Of The Places You Live” and start searching for an agent.

2. Find a publisher for the weird-western novella “There Are Not Enough Midnights.”

3. Finish the Steampunk Holmsian homage novella “A Study In Violet.”

4. Write a one-man storytelling show about blindness to perform in schools.

5. Write at least one feature-length screenplay.

6. Write at least one two-act stage play.

7. Keep my blog and website rolling with new content at least once a week.

No pressure

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