February 17, 2016: Karen Heuler, Austin Ratner, & Sandra Newman

Authors Karen Heuler, Austin Ratner & Sandra Newman share the stage. They each presented their custom literary cocktail, read to a packed house, and answered many questions. A new highlight of the evening: sharing their worst rejection letters and reviews. Brave souls, our readers! Click more for photos and details:

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Sandra Newman

Sandra read the opening of her stunning novel, The Country of Ice Cream Star. In just a few pages, she immediately drew us into its sounds and setting. Ice Cream 15 Star narrates her life in a new language and brings her post-apocalyptic world to us through a musical patois. This is an extraordinary read.

Sandra's cocktail, the Young & Sengle (like the characters in her novel), was a riff on the classic Negroni, using Gran Classico, an Italian bitter from Turin as an interesting stand-in for Campari, Antica Carpano, a sweet vermouth, and Spring 44 Gin. A popular, prettieuse drink that night.

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Karen Heuler

Karen read "What They See on Nox," from her new collection of stories, Other Places, due out this fall. Humans are sent to study the citizens of the distant planet Nox. So far, none has successfully communicated with them, but when a lens device is developed to reveal more about the beings, the first person to try it is struck with fear, trepidation, shame, terror—we're not exactly sure. But we do know he never wants to see what appeared through those lenses again. Karen teased us with the lead in to that one, and finished her reading without revealing what was seen. We grow curiouser and curiouser . . . I suppose we'll all have to get Other Places when it comes out!

The Glorious was Karen's cocktail. It seems genetic engineers wanted to spice things up a little (Tanteo jalapeño tequila) by creating a virus to kill crop-threatening insects. To the virus this was a sweet deal (Triple Sec). It shot from caterpillars to humans like a squirt of grapefruit from a spoon to an eye. As the affected caterpillars climbed stalks of wheat, humans climbed towers and bridges and telephone poles, joyously singing. But then it all soured (with lime) until, unable to cling to the heights they’d sought, they fell to their bitter end (cilantro). Survivors continued to pray and sing to their Gods come to earth—Agave Maria!

Worst review: "Sorry, Karen, but every time I start reading your book, I keep falling asleep." –Karen's mother

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Austin Ratner

Austin read from a work in progress that explores the human drive to dominate (in other words, to get other people to do stuff for them). It's a history of life, beginning on a cellular level and moving through time and across borders. delivered from the point of view of an artificial intelligence. This AI had a highly developed sense of humor—Austin had the audience laughing out loud, and often.

His drink was Leo's Quest, named after the lead character in his novel In the Land of the Living. Leo is on a quest to find something pure and true (…to drink). Vodka, cold and clear, gets muddled up with a confusion of cucumber, soured by longing for someone long ago gone (lemon), and some basil. Life has its sweetness—a loving family and good friends and St. Germain—yet Leo suffers from depression, and like Van Gogh, seeks solace in absinthe (but just a spritz), liberally sprinkled with tears of suffering (i.e. salt).

Worst rejection letter: Began with "Dear Adam" and declined ever further from there.

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David Lincoln at Late Night Mic

David read from a work in progress, the novel The Bhakti. His previously published novel is Mobility Lounge.

David has worked in the North Sea as a roustabout, taught computers in the Ministry of Agriculture in Nepal, sold encyclopedias in the suburbs of Denver, and participated in theatrical tours of England and Scotland. He holds an MA in Writing from San Francisco State University, has published travel writing, memoir, poetry, and short fiction in newspapers and literary journals in the United States. After living abroad for many years, he witnessed the digital revolution first hand by tele-commuting to Silicon Valley.