Brandi Willis Schreiber

Sensual, Southern Romance

Courage in Storytelling: A Look at TenX9 Lubbock

Art requires three forms of courage.

The first is the courage to create your heart’s work behind closed doors, to dream it into being, to believe in it enough to breathe it to life.

The second is the courage to share it with others, to open oneself to vulnerability, exposure, and others’ acceptance or rejection of your work.

The third is the courage to come back to your art – again and again – despite the world’s opinions of it.

This third type of courage is often the most difficult.

This past September, I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural TenX9 Lubbock event, a night of oral storytelling in which people shared a personal, true story in front of strangers. The night’s theme was courage, and boy, did it take courage for me to not only agree to do it, but actually get up on a stage and share something personal from my life in front of a room of strangers.

TenX9 Lubbock's opening night.

TenX9 Lubbock's opening night.

I told a story about the first fiction contest I entered and how, during a panel critique of the opening chapter of a novel that is now defunct, a panel member starting laughing at my pages. I was not, sadly, writing a comedy, but I was a very new to writing genre fiction, which is a world away from what I wrote in college. The room was full of other writers, and I made some very naïve mistakes, which I paid for quite openly.

Even now, I cringe when I think of that experience. I don’t know what was going through that panel member’s mind when she behaved like that, but she inadvertently spurred me to be a better writer, learn more about the craft, and try again.

Eventually, I wrote something that was accepted, but sharing memories of that public critique with strangers for the TenX9 Lubbock event meant reliving my humiliation not once, but twice:  first, by writing it down, and second, by reading it aloud. I wasn’t sure how my story would be received, and honestly, I dreaded revealing my embarrassment to anyone.

But I am convinced that as artists who want to share our work with others we have to be brave and open to everything that can go wrong and see it all as an opportunity to learn how to be better in our work.



I didn’t die on that stage telling my story, but I did develop that third type of courage a tiny bit more. This was the unexpected magic of participating in a TenX9 storytelling event.

I encourage everyone reading this post to attend or even participate in a Tenx9 event near you. I was humbled (and, if I’m being honest, slightly terrified) to participate, but the night was full of powerful stories: some funny, some poignant.

And if you’re interested in the history and purpose of Tenx9, read on for my Q&A with one of TenX9 Lubbock’s co-founders, Jordan Kirksey, who convinced me that I needed to share my own story on courage!


Jordan, tell me a little bit about the history of TenX9. How did you learn about it? What made you want to bring it to Lubbock, TX?

Tenx9 (pronounced “ten by nine”) is an international storytelling event that was started in Belfast by Paul Doran and Pádraig Ó Tuama in 2011

Sarai [Brinker] learned about this event through her friend Michael McRay, who runs Tenx9 Nashville.  In May of 2015, Sarai founded the Lubbock Story Project with the event Motherhood using a similar structure to Tenx9.  In the fall of that same year, she asked me to share a story I had shared with her in a class at an event with Sound being the theme. 

At the time, I felt nervous and scared because I had no idea what I was getting myself into (similar to how our first-time storytellers feel).  Long story short, while my story was awful, I fell in love with the event.  There’s just a magical feeling you can’t describe, listening to these stories… So, hoping Sarai would say yes, I asked if I could help her with this project. 

Our intent was always to eventually make this event Tenx9, but because of the work required, I think we wanted to wait and see if these events would be successful.  Eventually we planned a trip to Nashville… and attended Tenx9 Nashville’s event themed People Move … After meeting with them and attending the event, Sarai and I knew this was something we wanted to bring it to Lubbock.


Oral storytelling is a powerful tool. I remember my great aunt, Marie, used to spend hours telling me stories about everyone in our family when I visited her farm as a child. She told me people's secrets, shenanigans, histories, and heartbreaks, and these are some of my best childhood memories. How has oral storytelling played a part in your life? And in your opinion, how can we build more of that oral storytelling tradition into our daily lives?

For me oral storytelling has been a way for me to connect to people. When I was in middle school and high school, I began the process of allergy shots, which meant I would constantly be pulled out of school so I could get these shots.  Since my mom loved to spoil me, we would always go to Sonic for a drink or food and would play hookie from class.  Part of that time was filled with her telling me stories, and it was a chance for me to either escape far away from my life or to help process the things going on in it.  Perhaps that’s why we keep telling stories?  Even though it seems every story sounds like another, hearing them through a different person can make you listen differently.


TenX9 has an interesting structure: 9 people have 10 minutes or less to tell a true story that relates to a theme. Why the 9 people? Why only 10 minutes?

I’ve asked one of the founders this question, because I wasn’t sure myself, and here’s what he gave me: 

“We chose 9 people because we thought we could do 3 sessions of 3 storytellers, thereby getting some custom to the bar/café in the in-between sessions. And 10 minutes is a good length because it’s not too short and not too long. It’s about 1400 words, and if someone can’t tell a good story in that length of time, they’re not going to be helped by it being 15 minutes, or 20 minutes! Some of our best stories have been told in under 6 minutes, so 10 minutes isn’t a target for us, it’s just a limit.

We also say that if you’re uninterested in a story, then you know that it’s only going to be ten minutes maximum, so that’s never too long to switch off until you hear a different story. But our experience is that no matter where the story comes from it’s always interesting to folks. For a public event in a bar that’s an arts night, having an evening that has a format and pace is important - people need to know when an arts night is finishing, and the format gives a clear outline and helps the pace move along.” -  Pádraig Ó Tuama

When we’re able to sit there and absorb what the speaker is saying, we’re able to live another life we’ve never lived before.
— Jordan Kirksey

I have to admit I was very uncomfortable preparing for TenX9Lubbock. It was a challenge to agree to the event, write my own story, and then get up on that stage in front of everyone and share it. But once the microphone was in my hand, everything took on a sort of magical quality. Time slowed because here were all these people listening intently to what I had to say, and suddenly, I didn't feel so alone in my experience.  What is it about telling someone else a true story that is so powerful for building a sense of community and belonging?

Well, I think it’s the power of stories.  As my old creative writing teacher told me: stories build empathy.  It goes with the old adage of putting yourself in the shoes of others, as we’re able to live this story through the speaker’s perspective.  When we’re able to sit there and absorb what the speaker is saying, we’re able to live another life we’ve never lived before.  If you put this with a large mass of people, suddenly you’re amplifying the effect.  I don’t think anyone can feel out of place in a story, because at the core we are all human beings who experience conflict.  It’s the reason I love the format of Tenx9 too, because we get such a wide range of stories even though they share a common theme.


How often will TenX9Lubbock events happen? And if someone wanted to participate or attend, where can they find out more?

[I]t’s safe to say that Tenx9 will happen at least once a month.  We will have an event in November, but will likely take a break in December before resuming in January.  All of our events will be at Sugar Brown’s Coffee.  Check our website for updates!

One thing that is important to note is that we have specific guidelines (found on our website), and do not function on an “open mic” basis.  Every story is approved by either Sarai or myself, and we do ask for drafts or detailed outlines from every single storyteller a few days before the event.  It’s not to only pick stories that appeal to us, but rather to make sure that these are in fact stories with a beginning, middle, and end.  After that we use these to help develop a flow with the order of the stories. 

If anyone would like to tell a story, they can find out more at

Follow our Facebook page to keep up with our events!



TexX9Lubbock Co-founder, Jordan Kirksey

TexX9Lubbock Co-founder, Jordan Kirksey

TenX9 Lubbock Co-founder, Sarai Brinker

TenX9 Lubbock Co-founder, Sarai Brinker

Spell Casting and Magic Infusion: An Interview with Author Ariella Moon

Serendipity. Happenstance. The Universe, the Creator, and the Great Spirit conspiring to give us an unexpected gift.

Whatever term you prefer to use, there’s just something magical about meeting someone with whom you completely click.

Author Ariella Moon and I met during the SECOND CHANCES Facebook Live Interview and decided after the event to do what any two authors at Disneyland would do:

Go get burgers and ice cream and talk for 2 hours.

This lovely and unexpected time produced a wonderful friendship, and now, I’m excited to introduce her to you! Ariella is a person full of generosity, kindness, and magic, and she’s a fantastic author whose insight on the everyday magic behind writing is both uplifting and inspiring.

Read on to learn about the spell casting and magic infusion in her life and work and be sure to comment on this post for a chance to be entered into a drawing for a Kindle version of SPELL CHECK, Ariella’s first book in her Teen Wytche Saga. Comment on this post or sign up for my newsletter by Sunday, October 15! Double entries if you do both!

Author Ariella Moon writes magical Young Adult fiction.

Author Ariella Moon writes magical Young Adult fiction.

Ariella, I am so thrilled to interview you and share your work on my website today! For folks who may be unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write.

Thank you, Brandi. I am thrilled to be here!

I am a shaman, so my life is steeped in otherworldly happenings. I draw upon those experiences to infuse magic into my Teen Wytche Saga, a series of sweet contemporary Young Adult romances, and my Two Realms medival Scotland and Fairy fantasy novels.


Your writing - like your spirit - is full of magic!  Tell me a little bit about where you get your inspiration.  What you do to "refill the well" if you find that inspiration ever runs low?

Driving carpool for my daughter and her friends when they were in middle school was a great inspiration for The Teen Wytche Saga. It was a sad day when the girls learned to drive, and eventually went off to college. Now my inspiration comes from the girls I mentor through The Ophelia Project.

For THE BELTANE ESCAPE, Book 1, The Two Realms Trilogy, I was inspired by a shocking incident I read about while researching Scottish clan histories. My shaman side added a time twisting, Game of Thrones/Arthurian catalyst that transformed the historical events into a taut paranormal adventure. To replenish the well for The Two Realms, I visit the United Kingdom as often as possible.    

When they pour a cup of coffee or tea, or light a candle, they are are setting an intention. Now I will write. In essence, they are spell-casting, waking the Muse, telling it, “Begin the magical flow.”
— Ariella Moon

I love that carpooling and listening to your daughter and her friends was the inspiration for your Teen Wytche Saga. Toni Morrison has a wonderful quote:  "If writing is thinking and discovery and selection and order and meaning, it is also awe and reverence and mystery and magic." I believe this, absolutely, and am always amazed that I can create something from the most mundane details of life. In fact, I think writing is mostly reverence and magic in this sense. I wonder if you could share a little bit about your thoughts on writing and magic.

Writing and magic...I so agree with Toni Morrison! Writing and magic work together on multiple levels. Many authors have a ritual they do each day before they write. When they pour a cup of coffee or tea, or light a candle, they are are setting an intention. Now I will write. In essence, they are spell-casting, waking the Muse, telling it, "Begin the magical flow."

Then there is the alchemy of transforming thoughts and ideas into stories. Once the tale - the magic - is complete, the spell is cast out into the world in the form of a book. If the spell worked, then our writing magically transports the reader to another world (which may be back in time, on another planet, or look like our home town.) But with most magic, there is a wait. The author, like any magician, frets. "Did the spell work? Will my readers be enchanted?" We don't know until we read the reviews and receive our royalty checks.


Ha! Speaking of royalty checks, you are both traditionally published and indie published, something that we're seeing more and more authors do, both out of necessity and preference. What was your journey to traditional publication? Did you always want to be a hybrid author? What advice would you give to new writers deciding what path to pursue?

It is a tough decision.

The rise of Amazon, ebooks, digital reading devices, and small independent publishers offer exciting opportunities for new and established authors. SPELL CHECK and the next three books in my Teen Wytche Saga were contracted with a niche publisher. (In 2016 the rights reverted back to me, and I have been slowly re-releasing the novels.)

Many factors contributed to my decision to become a hybrid author and publish The Two Realms series myself. Foremost were control and money. None of the authors I know who are with small presses make much money, though a few have gone on to sign lucrative movie deals, and others, after leaving the small publisher and signing with a New York house, hit the bestseller lists.

Personality is a huge factor in deciding your publishing path. Do you have self-discipline? Do you have the time management skills, support system, drive, and ability to write, publish, and promote? Hybrid publishing stars Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre, and Marie Force drew upon their name recognition, fan bases, and well edited, popular mid lists to become indie publishing superstars.


When I interview authors, I love to learn about their writing processes because it's fascinating to see how everyone creates their art.  Tell us about your writing process, Ariella. What does a typical writing day (or hour) look like for you?  How do you get started, and when do you know to put down the pen or turn off the computer?  Any tips, tricks, or rituals that keep you writing?

When I had a day job, I used to light a tea candle at night and tell myself I couldn’t stop writing until the candle burned out. Fire represents the Creative Spark.

Now, I am a full-time publisher and writer. During the summer, since I live in the desert, I walk my dogs before the sun comes up. My typical day is: walk 1-2 miles, eat breakfast, quickly check emails and take care of any promotional deadlines, then write until 10:00 AM. Then I walk the dogs, put in another hour of writing, and then take a lunch break. The afternoons get dicey. If I start falling asleep at the computer, I quit, take a nap, and then resume writing. After dinner and the evening walk I try to get in another hour of writing, promo, or publishing before I quit and take the rest of the night off.


You and I share pages in the SECOND CHANCES anthology. Tell readers about your short story, "Covert Hearts!" How was writing your short story different from writing a book?  How did the experience help you grow and what lessons did you learn?

In “Covert Hearts” an undercover teen, hiding from a scandal and apparent suicide that devastated her family, discovers unexpected love. I had never before written a short piece of fiction. Luckily, my editor/critique partner, Barbara Millman Cole, is an award-winning short story author. I learned to strip down the story to its essence — two young adults who open their hearts to a second chance at love. Now I want to write linked stories in the “Covert Hearts” world.

THE AMBER ELIXIR is available for in both print and ebook now!

THE AMBER ELIXIR is available for in both print and ebook now!

Tell us about your latest releases and what readers have to look forward to over the next year!

THE AMBER ELIXIR just launched on Amazon (Kindle and print) and KOBO! A sequel to THE BELTANE ESCAPE, THE AMBER ELIXIR is a Lady of the Lake novella — a Coming of Age tale of forbidden love, shape-shifting fairies, witches, and wizards, and a magical elixir that could change the balance of power in the Two Realms.




Barnes & Noble






Book teaser for THE BELTANE ESCAPE, Book 1 in the Two Realms trilogy, available now in print and ebook!

Lastly, a fun question:  We discovered while preparing for our SECOND CHANCES Launch Party that we had both recently traveled to Scotland and have roots there. How amazing is that?! What was your trip to Scotland like?  What was your favorite place / experience? If you could go back again, what would you want to see or do?

It is an amazing connection! I traveled to Scotland to do research for my Two Realms series and to expand my shamanic knowledge. I returned to the Callanish Stones, which play an important role in THE VIKING MIST (January 2018). There, I was asked to co-lead a ritual for 17 people. A longhaired Scotsman (a bard dressed in a belted plaid) stood guard during the ritual. Glancing at him, I felt centuries strip away. It was such a déjà vu moment.

I loved the isle of Iona. So many fairy sightings! At least two otherworldly beings I saw there will appear in future books. I’d like to revisit the Isle of Skye, where rain prevented a hike to the fairy pools. During a walk after the rain, I was pulled toward the pools, but forced myself to turn back because darkness approached. I did not want to be caught between worlds in Scotland, near a fairy ring, close to the summer solstice, at gloaming!


About Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post, marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.

Ariella loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at:

Ariella’s Website

Ariella’s Blog






Like this post?  Comment below and/or sign up for my newsletter by Sunday, October 15 for a chance to be entered into a drawing for a Kindle version of SPELL CHECK, Ariella’s first book in her Teen Wytche Saga. Double entries if you do both!