The Homecoming!

No, not this one (although I really, really loved it a lot when I was 11 years old):

The first “episode” of The Waltons: The Homecoming, 1971

But, rather, my little family of raccoons (!!) came back to the maple tree outside my bedroom window this morning.

About 10 days ago, the little cubs were old enough to leave the hollow of the tree, and the mommy racoon took them off to go adventuring. I thought I might not see any of them again until the Fall.

But, around 7 AM this morning,  suddenly they were all back in the tree and just as cute as could be! So playful. And still no damage to my roof, so — YAY.

I think it’s  true, that out here in the country there are lots more interesting things for raccoons to get into than to spend time destroying my roof. (See a post down below somewhere re: how destructive the adorable raccoons were to my old house in “the city.”)

On another note…

I wish I could have gotten a photo of that full moon last night for you!  It was unbelievably breathtaking — so huge, way off in the distance, cresting on the hillside in the darkness, overlooking the miles and miles and miles of farms in the valley. I was driving alone, out on an old two-lane highway here in the Hinterlands.  It was pitch dark out except for that amazing rose-hued moon (and a bunch of fireflies).

I’m guessing you probably saw the moon yourself, wherever you are in the world. But something about beauty and human nature; you want to capture it somehow and share it with everybody, even if they’ve already seen it with their own eyes!

Okey-dokey. I gotta get back to the manuscript, gang.  It’s going good, but I’m at one of those junctures where I don’t have a freakin’ clue what happens next, so I’ve gotta sit here patiently and stare at the blank page. Eventually the characters will wake up and tell you what you need to know. It’s best to be paying attention when that happens!

So, have a splendid Saturday, wherever it takes you, folks! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

USA Today

 

 

 

 

That snag in the road

I realize it’s a mixed metaphor.

It stands for when you’re just tootling along on the computer keyboard, happily writing your new novel, when a single word stops you. Brings you to a sudden halt.

You ponder that word. You know it’s not the right word. But what is the right word? What would be the perfect word? Then you realize, No it’s not the word that’s wrong; it’s how you’ve structured the sentence… Hm. How to re-structure it, then?

And the next thing you know, you’re dissecting whole paragraphs and suddenly everything seems to be written in a different language than the one you thought you were writing in and the whole manuscript begins unraveling. How did that happen?

Before you do anymore damage to your otherwise perfectly reasonable manuscript — STOP. Just stop it. Stop tinkering. Close the laptop and walk away!! You are clearly not in alignment with it and nothing good can come from that.

That was yesterday, folks. I had that kind of strange writing day. Luckily, I’m 110 years old now and have had many of those types of days before and know that it will pass. I’m hoping today will be better. I’m hoping that when I open the Word file and look at the Hurley Falls manuscript, it will be back in English, the language I’m most comfortable writing in…

Actually, my secret is (and I teach this to all my writing students), there is a completed, perfect version of your book, script, poem, whatever, already in existence and all you need do is tune into that version and let it flow through you with confidence into this reality.

That’s why it’s best to walk away when you’re feeling out of alignment with something because you actually are out of alignment with it, for now, so stop trying to “fix” it and go do something fun instead.

And I did!!

I had another splendid time at the theater last night!

I saw I Hate Hamlet (Paul Rudnick, 1991). I’d never seen it before and wasn’t sure what to expect, except that it would be a comedy and that it had key elements that I would probably really enjoy (i.e., I’ve always loved John Barrymore. No, I’m not that old; he was dead before I was born, but only by about 18 years, so his reputation was still part of the overall movie and theater culture when I was growing up).

I wasn’t expecting the John Barrymore character to have so much depth, though, since the play was a comedy.  But depth it had. And I came away feeling they did a great service to John Barrymore by not simply treating him as a lush-has been.

As happened in A Chorus Line a couple weeks ago, actors who are really young (very early 20s) are in the key roles and they blew me away. An actor named William Joseph Bureau played Barrymore last night and I was really impressed with his ability to tap into something timeless and have such compassion, passion, and humor. He isn’t even out of college yet. How does that happen?? Well, happen it did!

And Jack Baylis, the young man who plays the LA actor who moves to NYC and tries to take on the role of Hamlet (under the tutelage of Barrymore’s ghost), was part of last summer’s company and was my favorite last summer.  Though last night’s play wasn’t a musical, Jack Baylis had the part of the lieutenant last summer in South Pacific and had the most beautiful voice. Literally. Clear as a bell. So suited to Broadway.  When he sang, Younger than Springtime, it was truly the highlight of my whole summer.

It’s a moment I actually keep remembering, in fact. I’m guessing that, the older I get, I’ll keep remembering that moment — when someone really young and gifted was singing Younger than Springtime and time stopped. I’m guessing I’ll keep remembering it until I can’t remember stuff anymore.

That’s what is so great about live theater — those truly magical moments stay with you long after all the useless, or unhappy, or disappointing moments of everyday life have slipped away.

Okay. I gotta get crackin’ here and take a look at Hurley Falls. Have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are in the world, gang, and enjoy whatever you’re doing! (And if you’re not enjoying it, walk away and make room for the miracles!) Thanks for visiting. See ya!

 

It’s getting to be that time of the summer!

Yes! That time of year where YOU, the gentle reader, gets to rob me blind!!

Yes, I’m talking about the Smashwords 10th Annual Summer Sale, and it begins July 1st, ending July 31st. I will post the links here on the blog at the beginning of the month.

All my titles published on Smashwords, in all eReader formats, will be entirely free to download for the month of July. My titles on Smashwords are:

  • Twilight of the Immortal
  • Freak Parade
  • The Muse Revisited, Volume I: Early Erotica
  • The Muse Revisited, Volume II: Early Erotic Novellas & Longer Works
  • The Muse Revisited, Volume III: More Early Erotica

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I’m not a super huge fan of the Smashwords giveaways, primarily because my books are often downloaded there when they’re for free, but rarely ever purchased there when they’re not for free. (In case you’re curious about stuff like this:  I sell more eBooks on Amazon.UK, and regular print books in Germany, than anywhere in the world.)

An example of what I mean re: Smashwords: The eBook edition of my super-duper award-winning erotic novel, Freak Parade, has been downloaded for free nearly 1000 times during the giveaways since it’s publication there in 2010 –yes, nearly one thousand free downloads; think of the royalties I didn’t get!! And it has sold there 56 times. And it has only been reviewed there once  by someone I didn’t actually know.

And yet, I still publish on Smashwords and I still participate. All these books and short stories are really old now anyway, so it doesn’t really matter that much to me, and it’s allegedly good for PR. Although I can’t really imagine anyone downloading an erotic book for free and then, if they liked it, not giving it away for free to someone else. I wasn’t born yesterday, gang.

In fact, in the early days, when my writing first became popular (in the late 80s & early 90s), many people Xeroxed my magazine stories and faxed them to other people all over the country. It was 100% completely and entirely pointless to think I was going to get paid for any of that. (I did, however, get a visit from the FBI because one of my early Xeroxed & faxed stories had inadvertently attached itself to a bunch of pedophiles, so that was fun…) However, at the peak of my erotica-writing career, my 100% completely, certified-non-pedophile essays, short stories, novels, novellas, and edited works, sold nearly 100,000 copies, all of which I did get paid for. So I think that, back then, royalty-free Xeroxing & faxing created pretty good word-of-mouth for me in the long run.

So I don’t really mind that much about Smashwords. It still matters more to me that a reader somewhere likes something of mine they’ve read — that matters more to me than what they might or might not have paid, when you get right down to it.

That said, here’s another topic that long-time loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recognize: how much collectors’ copies of my old books sell for on Amazon! If you clicked on the link to Twilight of the immortal in the blog post from the other day, you probably  spotted a print edition  selling there for $491.11 (!!!!) This is a TERRIBLE edition, filled with typos (it’s why I no longer allowed it to be sold in print by that publisher and ended up publishing it myself), but more than likely it was autographed by me at some point, probably in London several years ago. And that’s why these really old books of mine have inexplicable price tags.  I’ve signed an awful lot of books.

All righty! On that happy note, I’m going to dive back into writing the Hurley Falls Mysteries: Down to the Meadows of Sleep, then I’ll drive into town after dinner to see I Hate Hamlet! Sounds like a blissful Wednesday, if you ask me. Hope yours is likewise!!

Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya!

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t be happier, gang!

First off, I finally have a haircut. And I got it by way of standing in front of the bathroom mirror this morning and simply snip-snip-snipping it off with a small pair of barber’s scissors.

I am so darn busy — and seemingly have been since last November — that I can’t ever get myself to the hair salon in a timely manner to get my hair trimmed. Yes, just a trim. That’s all I ever need. And now the salon is but a mere 5 minute walk from my house and I still couldn’t get myself over there. So, following in the footsteps of one of my many muses who happens to cut her own hair —

K D Lang

— I finally decided that enough was enough. That I could no longer leave the house with a mile-long bunch of dead, split-ends anymore, so off they came!! (But only about 2-inches. I’m not likely to ever be as drastic as KD Lang is when it comes to hair…)

I instantly felt several pounds lighter, at least in spirit. And when I sauntered out into the world to run my errands, everyone at the gas station and at the grocery store was visibly relieved that they no longer had to look at my unsightly split-ends anymore.

Yay!

The other thing that I’m really, really happy about is that the complete revision of my mystery novel, once called The Miracle Cats, but now called The Hurley Falls Mysteries, at last started coming out onto the page on Thursday. I’m really, really happy with the new direction it’s taking, gang. I’m finally back in that space where I can’t wait to get in front of the laptop in the morning and start writing.

This first book in what I hope will be a series of Hurley Falls Mysteries, is titled: Down to the Meadows of Sleep.

The other thing that I’m super excited about is that this Wednesday, I have my ticket to the theater again. They’re now doing I Hate Hamlet (Paul Rudnick, 1991).

Loyal readers of this lofty blog — well, really long-time loyal readers of this lofty blog, who remember when I was in the throes of writing Twilight of the Immortal, my novel about Hollywood in the late nineteen-teens, early 1920s; the very same novel that, upon completion after my ten years of writing it, my agent took me to a celebratory dinner at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood and declared, “Marilyn, this book is your masterpiece! The only thing I can compare this to is F. Scott Fitzgerald…. but unfortunately, that’s not a good thing. No one’s buying novels like this right now” — and she turned out to be 100% correct;  well, long-time loyal readers who remember all that, will no doubt recall that I love old Hollywood.

I Hate Hamlet is, loosely, about a modern-day LA actor moving into John Barrymore’s old apartment in NYC; an apartment haunted by Barrymore, and then shenanigans ensue. Here’s a shot from the theater’s Facebook page!

I Hate Hamlet at the Weathervane Playhouse; William Bureau playing John Barrymore’s ghost.

I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!

All righty! On that happy note, I gotta go downstairs and finish doing the laundry, and then get back at The Hurley Falls Mysteries and get some good work done on that, because tonight, Endeavor returns to PBS! I need to be front & center for that, gang!

Have a great Sunday, wherever you are! Keep those miracles coming, gang! And thanks for visiting. See ya!

Shaun Evans playing Endeavor on PBS

 

It doesn’t take much to make me happy!

No, it doesn’t take much to make me happy, which does not mean that I would shoo away a great big bunch of stuff that would also make me happy!

But, in this instance, I’m talking about 3 specific, small happiness-deliverers.

One, is yesterday’s delivery of this:

 

Truly the most awesome fan, ever. It’s made by Lasko. I have a more traditional-style, small rotating Lasko fan that still works great and that I’ve had, literally, for 20 years already. With that kind of track record for Lasko fans, it could very well be that I will die before this new fan ever wears out.

However, I digress…

Several friends told me about this miraculous fan once they knew how god-awful the humidity was in my new (very old) house. I didn’t want to invest in any kind of AC unit yet, because my house won’t be getting new insulation until the early fall, and the new furnace will also be completely re-installed then. It’s not running correctly. But investing in a new fan, one that everyone raved about, seemed like a good idea. And I have to say, it truly is an awesome fan, gang.  Somehow, it puts out incredibly cool air.

It is super quiet,  rotates, has 3 speeds, has an ionizer thingie, and a remote control. I never dreamed that I could ever be lazy enough to love a remote control for a fan, and yet… ! It appears I am.  I can lay in bed in the dark, aim and just go: click, click, click. Too fun! So if you, as I do, suffer from the brain-deadening affects of overwhelming humidity, you must buy this fan. It is a little pricey for a fan, but a lot of places have it on sale right now.

The other small thing that happened yesterday that made me happy is this:

Yes, that is a kitchen sink drain.  One side of my kitchen sink has been leaking since the day I moved in. The kitchen sink has all new pipes underneath it, but someone did not install one of the sink drains correctly.

My friend, Diane, came by yesterday and installed a brand new one! Now I don’t have to keep a bucket under the sink and empty it out at the curb every 2 days…

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with all that extra time. Perhaps just sit in front of the new fan.

The 3rd thing, is that the brand new outdoor hose spigot that came with the house, was also not installed correctly.

At the start of the spring, I bought a brand new hose and a new sprayer, and, as seen in a post below somewhere, I bought a lot of flowers. I excitedly connected up my new hose only to discover that the bright shiny new spigot does not work! (I think I moved into a fake house, gang.  Things are shiny and new on the surface, but don’t actually work…)

(This also happened when my new gas stove was delivered the day I moved in. When the guy tried to install it, he discovered that whoever had installed my new electric water heater in the basement had capped off the gas line, without even installing a valve to open it again!  200 and 50 additional dollars later…)

(To learn about my electrical-wiring nightmare, and the situation with my water meter being put on backwards so that the meter ran in reverse, alarming city hall, see various posts below.)

Anyway. I digress yet again.

Diane took the new spigot apart and discovered that whoever had installed it, had damaged it. While we ran  out of time yesterday, she will be coming back out to the Hinterlands with one of these::

I told you that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I cannot wait until I no longer have to make nine (9!!) trips to the (no-longer-leaking) kitchen sink with my watering can just to water all my flowers in front of the house. (This doesn’t count the flowers on the kitchen porch, but it’s a lot easier to get to the no-longer-leaking kitchen sink from the kitchen porch…)

Okay! I’ve tarried here long enough. I’ve got to get some writing done while the caffeine is still in high gear.

Thanks for visiting, gang! Have a thoroughly terrific Thursday, wherever you are in the world! See ya!

 

 

It’s gonna be a great summer!

Wow, gang. It’s already shaping up to be quite a terrific summer out here in the Hinterlands. Except for that pesky humidity…

(Loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that I just recently bought a very old house (117 years) out in the country that has no central AC. It has 22 large windows, though, so I’m not dying yet, technically-speaking.  Not yet, anyway…)

And those same loyal readers will also recall that while I wait to hear from seemingly every TV producer on the planet re: my TV pilot, Cleveland’s Burning; and while I await revision notes on the one-woman musical I wrote with NYC-based actor, Sandra Caldwell, (we are gearing up to workshop it Off-Broadway); I decided to go back to working on that illustrated novel-in-progress, The Miracle Cats — the mystery novel that I’m writing and that my pal, Val in Brooklyn, is illustrating.

Well, since moving out here to the Hinterlands, I’ve become very inspired to make significant changes to the premise of the The Miracle Cats. (The main one being that rather than have it be a “Miracle Cats” series, it’s now going to be a “Hurley Falls Mystery” series, although there will still be cats in it.) And the fictional Hurley Falls will now be based on this tiny village I now live in, rather than having it be a strictly fictional town, based on nothing real at all.

I’ve been doing research the last several days, trying to find out more about the history of this village, and I stumbled upon some really cool stuff, gang! One being that all these ancient burial mounds around the county were built by some really tall people! Charred skeletons and various burial-related accoutrements were excavated around here, nearly 200 years ago, and the excavations revealed that the skeletons were all between 8 feet and 9-feet 4 inches tall. Including an infant skeleton, 3 and 1/2 feet tall.

It just staggers my imagination. Of course, this is going back well over 2000 years, but those really tall people were walking around all over (what is now) this village.  Just too cool to imagine. And they didn’t appear to be related to any Native American tribal people. They were sun worshipers, more closely related to people from ancient Greece and Egypt.

Then I also did some research on the more modern-day founders of this village, nearly 200 years ago, as well. And to my delight, discovered that most of those early pioneers are buried in the cemetery a few blocks away from my house! It really brought everything “to life,” as it were.  I was so excited to discover all those graves so close by.  I walked around the cemetery, with my handwritten list of names, and it was like discovering an old friend each time I found a tombstone that matched a name that was on my list. (Another cool thing, is that you can find the grave of someone who died in 1817 and they’re buried not too far from someone who died in, like, 2005. You just don’t see that too often in places where I’ve lived in the past.)

In a sort of “Our Town” type of thing, or “Spoon River Anthology,” the spirits of the people who once lived in the town are part of the Hurley Falls Mysteries. So after I checked off all those names of those people who’ve been buried a really long time, I told them (out loud, unfortunately), “Get ready, guys!! You’re going to live again!!”

However, all that exciting stuff said, it was ridiculously humid out while I was doing all this tracking down of tombstones, and I had tickets to the theater last night. When I got back from the cemetery, drenched in sweat, I took a shower and was still drenched in sweat!

I thought to myself, I cannot possibly go to the theater tonight. I have to sit here for the rest of the night, completely motionless, and just try not to sweat…

However, since I already bought season tickets, it seemed ridiculously wasteful not to load my sweaty self into my air-conditioned Honda Fit, drive into town and see the show.

I am SO GLAD I did, gang. They were opening the season with A Chorus Line.

I saw the original NY road show of A Chorus Line back in the mid-70s, and it was a show that meant so much to me. And within a couple years of that, I was a professional singer, living in New York City, and a lot of my friends were on Broadway working  in chorus lines, some of them graduates of the old High School of Performing Arts, so wonderfully immortalized in the song “Nothing,” and while I never wanted to be in an actual chorus line, so much of that show became part of how life actually was for me and my friends in NYC — many of those friends having since died from AIDS 25 to 30 years ago.

Last evening, as I was cooling down in my air-conditioned Honda Fit, driving the 15 miles to the theater, I could not imagine a summer stock version of the show capturing anything close to what the original show had meant. And yet…

I have to say…

that I think the version I saw last night…

this version where all of the actors are only in their late teens, early 20s, and so were not even an idea in God’s mind yet, 40-some years ago during the show’s original run…

this version was even better. And it wasn’t “updated” for today’s audiences, or anything. It was the original show. Wow, gang.  It was wonderful!

Well, I leave you with this awesome song from the original 1975 Broadway Cast. Have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are, gang.  Go out there and expect some miracles! Thanks for visiting. See ya!