Tag Archives: musical theater

Finally! I really do write!

The final revisions were made yesterday to my TV movie script, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge, AND I did the highly implausible: I wrote a logline that the producer said was “excellent”.

That’s a first.

Normally, my loglines suck. I usually marvel in awe at writers who can come up with a decent logline right off the top of their heads — or even right after they tinker with it for several days, laboring slavishly. I thought the one I came up with for Tea Cozy Murder Club was serviceable, at best. I imagined the producer would tinker with it until it was better than serviceable.

When he emailed me back and said it was excellent, I was dumbfounded. (“How can that be?” I wondered. “If I was the one who wrote it?”)

This is the logline (drum roll, please): The members of a small town book club that delights in solving cozy old whodunits suddenly find themselves with a very real not-so-cozy murder to solve.

Yes, you guessed it! The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge is a cozy mystery. (So is The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport — see numerous posts below.) Even though everyone the world over knows me for my super-duper killer award-winning literary erotica, I haven’t written in that genre for nearly 10 years, and I only read it now when I’m hired to edit it. Nowadays, I only read religious tomes (this one is jaw-droppingly awesome and needs to be read by everybody you’ve ever known), or cozy mysteries. (I’m currently reading this one, by Louise Penny.)

So, the great news is that the producer will be taking The Tea Cozy Murder Club to a meeting with a production company in L.A. next week! I will keep you posted on how much they love it.

Yippee-ki-yi-yay!

On the Fluffy front (see post below about how my beloved Fluffy has advanced cancer): she is still with us and that makes it a great day! She is quite frail, though. This morning, at dawn, I scooped her up really gently in my arms and took her over to the screen door so that she could see the beautiful world that was awakening outside. It really was lovely out — and cool! 57 degrees! Fluffy was so alert and entranced by the outside world. The greenery everywhere, the flowers blooming and, most importantly, the happy birds chirping like mad.

I just love Fluffy. I will deal with my grief when I have to. For now, it’s just a perfect day.

Well, okay. On that note…Thanks for visiting, gang! Have a perfect day, too, wherever you are and whatever it finds you doing! See ya!

Okay! Progress getting made

Since tomorrow is April 1st, it looks like it’s only been about 2 MONTHS since I last posted anything here (but what a fine and lively post it was! I hope you all listened to that wonderfully fun song! I am still listening to it in my car.) (Not exclusively — I listen to quite a panoply of Frank Sinatra tunes from the 40s & 50s while driving in my 19 (!!!) year-old car…)

Okay.  Many updates occurred while I was absent from the blog.  Some of them traumatizing — for instance, any and all developers and private real estate investors suddenly and without warning dropped all interest in commercializing my specific block on my street here in Gahanna.

This means that after keeping me in limbo for 3 and 1/2 years, telling me they were tearing my house down and re-zoning my block for commercial use, and hence my reasonably-foreseeable-future plans of moving back to New York — all of it came to a grinding halt.

It has something to do with City Hall, taxes, other residents, unhappy voters.  So now I am basically working around the clock to afford all the many, many repairs this poor house needs to make it livable again.

I know that the absolute minute I get it back to being the sweet little dream house it once was, they will knock on my door yet again and tell me they are tearing it down. But you know what? We’ll just have to see what we see. I can’t live in limbo anymore with a house falling down around my ears.

So.

The one-woman musical I’m working on with the actress in New York is basically done. Yay!! I think the premiere will be in Toronto, though, not New York City. I will keep you posted about that. It has something to do with funding from the Canadian Arts Council. But I can tell you, with complete certainty, that it is a GREAT show!! I am so thrilled to be a part of it.

Now she and I have 3 more plays/musicals to write together. I’m guessing that will keep me busy for a huge number of years. (The actress has been working on the above-mentioned one-woman show for maybe 7 years already. Writing, re-writing, workshopping it, performing it — it won an award in Canada already. Then I came on board to help significantly re-write it about 2-3 years ago. These things really do take forever.)

I have also finished writing my TV movie script for The Tea Cozy Murder Club!! It goes off to the producer in L.A. on Friday. He is excited to read it and I am super-duper excited to send it to him! This is an idea I have been developing for about 4 or 5 years. Now, I need to start writing the novels that go along with the TV movies (there is, at the very least, a series of 4.)

The mystery book series I’m writing with my illustrator friend in Brooklyn is still moving forward (The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport). We had to put it on hold, though, momentarily, until I completed the script for my other project because the producer’s assistant emailed me and asked if I was planning to wait on sending it until after the producer retired….

Anyway, so I finally had to stop juggling everything at once, and write one thing at a time. But now we are back to The Miracle Cats. Here’s the latest illustration. It is “Sister Thomasina”:

"Sister THomasina" aka known as Tommy Cakes!
“Sister Thomasina” aka known as Tommy Cakes!

I am also researching and putting notes together for a one-man play I want to write. I will go over more of those details as it goes along. But I’m very excited about it. It is somewhat connected to my ministry, but I won’t say more than that, lest I send you off on a complete tangent that would be wholly inaccurate.

Now that I’m done with school and staring down several years’ worth of paying off student loans… I am now learning Ancient Greek, and re-learning Biblical Hebrew (which I studied as a child, so a lot of that comes back to me). Anyway, learning them both at once is not really so daunting as it might seem because they have similarities. Sort of. Plus, I am strictly doing it on my own time and at my own pace, so it is really invigorating and fun.

I doubt I will ever learn enough Ancient Greek or live long enough to translate the Septuagint on my own, but we can dream, can’t we??? I’m already planning to write my own version of The Jefferson Bible (my minster at church refers to my plans as The Lewis Bible and it may well be that!). And I fully, fully intend to do this and maybe even publish it online! We shall see…

So, that’s it. That’s it. That’s where I’ve been. It is completely, 100% thoroughly safe to say that I am exhausted.  But that’s how it goes sometimes.

Right now, it’s a wonderfully rainy spring morning. The birds are singing outside my window and the many, many cats who live here are planted at the screen door, looking out at the beautiful, wet, singing world. I hope it’s just as peaceful and promising where you’re at today, gang. Thanks for visiting! See ya down the road.

rain

 

 

 

 

Back to normal around here

That drawing above was done by my girlfriend in Brooklyn — the one who is collaborating with me on the cozy murder mystery that features my cats. (Bunny, above, is one of the cats in the book, although she is also an actual cat — see posts below.)

My girlfriend drew the picture last night in solidarity with me over Bunny’s recovery. So beautiful.

On that front, it is safe to say that Bunny has, indeed, recovered! Last night, she was ornery, stubborn, and opinionated. In other words, back to her old self! She refused to come up to bed with me and listen to her 528 Hz. tones, and was insistent on sleeping in the living room, down under the coffee table, thank you very much. I was very pleased with the development…

Now all I need is for MYSELF to get back to normal — no, not ornery, stubborn, and opinionated; it would take an Act of God to stop me from being ornery, stubborn, and opinionated! What I need to do is get my energy back and my clarity back and my overall vitality back after Bunny’s brush with death, so that I can get back to my writing projects/deadlines and produce more than, say, one paragraph a day… Plus, the actress in New York City (you remember her, gang, right? We are still working on her one-woman show) — she popped in yesterday via text and asked if I was “ready for more pages”???

I’m always ready for more pages… I wouldn’t be back to normal if I didn’t have 2, 3, or 4 projects needing 100% of my attention at once.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the new developers about buying my property — which would then lead to my finally moving back to New York (and getting a ticket to see Hamilton post haste!! It kills me that I am not there, seeing shows, gosh dang it!) Writing is the only way to take my mind off of not being there. Although, keeping my thoughts centered on being there, I believe helps pull the experience to me.

Ah well, so back at it around here, gang. Thanks for visiting. Have a terrific, action-packed, super colossal (and perhaps snowy) Saturday, wherever you are!! See ya.

Bunny by Val
Bunny by Val

Home again, happy, busier than ever!

Howdy, howdy, gang! YES, I am back home and YES, it was a most auspicious trip to New York, and THANK YOU to all of you who sent me birthday greetings last week! Oh, and YES (!!) I had CAKE!

First, I want to regale you with the riot of flowers that are blooming all over my yard this year. These are Roses of Sharon — taking over, as they are wont to do — because I have lived the entire summer not knowing when (or if) I was going to be packing up and moving away… Alas, I am still here, and the yard has become a veritable jungle of blooming madness (and also weeds).

The view through one of my garden gates
The view through one of my garden gates

Multiply all these blossoms on the right by the entire yard — back, front, sides– and you get a tiny idea of how crazy it is around here this summer. I went out to water my little herb garden on the kitchen stoop yesterday and discovered hundreds more blossoms blooming where they had never been before. The other garden gate is so overrun that I have to keep the gate open all the time, or the honeysuckle vines will wind all over it and keep it  permanently shut.

Well, it could be worse. I do love flowers.

So! The trip to Rhinebeck was a complete success.  We hammered out the version of the script that we will use for the staged reading of Tell My Bones: The Helen LaFrance Story. We also made great progress on notes and a synopsis for the one-woman show I am writing for the same actress “about” Pearl Bailey. (I put it in quotes now because it has become apparent that the Pearl Bailey family won’t release any rights whatsoever for outsiders to use her likeness, so we have to tell her story in a different way now, but it will be even better. Yay.)

My most amazing news is that the actress is forming a production company and asked me to be the writer for it, since we already have 4 theater projects we are working on together, and I COULD NOT be more excited! (Even though Tell My Bones is a screenplay, we are also working on a version of it for the stage.)

The downside is that there was a heat wave in Rhinebeck the entire time I was there and the AC wasn’t working right and there were no fans. Not only did I think I was going to perish in the relentless heat and humidity, I was the only person who was being eaten alive by mosquitoes everywhere we went!!

It’s a good thing so much good stuff was happening. It made it easier to just “deal and get over it.”

Now that I’m back home again, the cats couldn’t be happier. They had to have a cat sitter the whole time I was away and since they are all the proverbial “scaredy cats,” it was not a fun time for them. Hopefully, the next trip I make back to Rhinebeck, they will all be coming with me and we will be moving into our new home…I hope. We shall see.

Okay, on this wonderful Monday morning, I leave you with something wildly upbeat. I dare any of you to have a bad day after listening to this oldies gem!!! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya!

 

 

At long last, a day off!

Well, minus the fact that I was working on the play for a couple hours already this morning (and am now done with revisions on Act 1), I have the whole day off! My first whole day off since school started up again, three weeks ago.

I have no idea what I will do with the rest of my day, but I’m going to try to get out and take a walk before it starts raining. Then play the rest by ear.

It’s been an interesting, quasi-stressful week. Taxes, of course, were due. And I always owe taxes. And that ceiling in my sun room, that I wrote about recently, finally came crashing down. What a colossal smell of mold and mildew! And needless to say, what a colossal mess. As of now, I am just leaving it and keeping the room closed off. Depending on what the realtor says about the current timeline for the developers taking over my house, I will either leave the mess for the bulldozers, or get a mask and clean it up myself. I’m hoping for the prior choice, obviously, but I can’t go all summer with mold taking over my downstairs. So we shall see.

But so sad. It used to be my favorite room in the house. I have so many great memories of spending time in that room and now it is a complete, bona fide disaster. Really just so sad.

But I don’t want to dwell on it. I know that a brighter future is on the horizon.

So, yes!! Act One of the one-woman musical is DONE, gang!! Yay!! And it is terrific. The actress has truly done such an amazing job — and had an amazing life. Of course this also means that a quick trip to NYC is looming large, once again, in my future, because we have to work out the staging of a formal reading with the director and musical director. I have no clue what “looming large in my future” really means. I only know that at some point soon I will have to take off and go. Hopefully, that will happen before my housemate moves out on June 1st. Otherwise, I will have to hire the professional cat sitters and I’d much rather not have to worry about that expense, but I guess we’ll see.  Naturally, for the 3 months that I was out of school and didn’t have homework to do every single day, the trip wasn’t looming large at all…

I’m thinking that I might actually work on some of my own writing today. It’s been a really long time since I had time to do that.  You never know, I might still remember how! (Oh, and the other day, I was invited back to L.A. to pitch my TV pilot to some more producers, but my finances are stalled in limbo until the house sells. However, flattered I was!)

Hey, last Tuesday, my girlfriend and I got a chance to see the Al Pacino movie, Danny Collins. We really enjoyed it. (We were in one of those Fork & Screen theaters, where you get to order dinner while you watch the movie. That was a cool experience! Except that sometimes the waiters talk to you while interesting dialogue is galloping past on the screen and then, of course, you miss it. But it still was fun. If you like Al Pacino and/or John Lennon, I really recommend the movie.) (Not sure why all that became a parenthetical phrase, but there you have it!!)

Okay, I wanna go out and look at the flowers, the sky, the trees — take that WALK before it rains!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday, wherever you are. I leave you with Al Pacino!! See ya!

 

 

 

 

Yes, Holy Week be Upon Us!

Yay. My favorite week of the year, even though “favorite” might not be the best word for describing a crucifixion, let alone the crucifixion of someone so widely missed as, well, you know who…

This is the week that I am more “in” church than “out” of church. I love the solemnity of it, the beauty of it, the pathos of it — and the questions that I ask myself all week long: “How much of this stuff is actually true???!!” Who the heck knows, right? As a minister, I’m supposed to tow the party line & buy it all, but I know it won’t surprise you to know that I question every single solitary thing. But I still love it….

I love it SO MUCH, in fact, that, yes, I am back in school, completing the next phase of my ministry degree. I know I said I was done, but it turned out — I was wrong! I don’t need all this education to be a mionister (that’s Olde French for “minister”), but I still crave that Masters in Divinity, so I am sticking with school, for now. We’ll see how I can manage that once I move back to New York, but for now, I am back in school and loving it.

And also on Spring Break! Yay. Just in time to be at church constantly. So.

Wow, the re-writes of the original stage musical I am working on with that actress in New York City– it is going spectacularly well!! Yes, after several months of pulling teeth, pulling hair — I don’t know; what else can we pull out in frustration? Whatever it was, we pulled it and we are almost done with the revisions of Act One and I still think the show is incredible, gang. It already won one award — these revisions are being done on a grant from the Canadian Arts Council. The play won the actress/writer the Best New African-Canadian Playwright award — something like that.  So the lovely world of Canada is paying my wages and will pay my airfare to NYC soon, to work in person with the actress and the music director, and everyone else.  (I know, I keep saying I will be going to NYC soon to work on this, and it keeps getting postponed, but, naturally, now that I am back in school, the trip is imminent again!) But I am a big fan of Canada now. Yay! Honestly, what’s not to love??

Okay. Since it has been over a month since you last heard from me: Yes, I was glued to every single solitary episode of Empire! Wow, how addicting! I love Terrence Howard, which was the main reason I tuned in the very first night, but then I was hooked on the indescribably unChristian immorality of every single character!! Too fun, wasn’t it, gang? Luckily, the first season is over now — making room in my world for the final season of my beloved Mad Men. (I’m hoping they will soon release some sort of gorgeous Boxed DVD set that I can purchase and display prominently, next to the icons of Christ…)

The other thing I waste way too much time on is Miranda Sings. This is why I had to go back to school, gang. It gives me something to do with my magnificent brain besides binge-watch endless 5-minute episodes of Miranda Sings, laughing myself silly. She is just too funny.  (I don’t know if I can pick an absolute favorite episode, I have so many, but the one where she gives singing lessons to Pentatonix is right up there, along with the What’s In My Pants Challenge.)

On that lofty note, though, I do want to wish everyone a very blessed Holy Week.  Even if you aren’t a big Christ-follower yourself, there is a whole lot about human nature that we can learn from this week. Mainly, that when Christ entered Jerusalem on Sunday, he was already a dead man walking; the same crowds that cheered him on Sunday, had him nailed to a cross by Friday morning… Funny, how the more things change in 2000 years, the more they stay exactly the same, right? Something to ponder, anyway — how the “crowd” will turn on you on a dime.

Okay!! Now that the roof guy has finished patching the enormous hole in my roof and gone home, I’m gonna get my taxes together here. I have a nice little pile of official-looking junk on my desk that I have to make sense out of before I dump it onto someone else’s desk! Yay! (The buck never stops here, folks. Whenever I see one coming, I scoot quickly away!!)

I hope you are gearing up for a fantastic spring. Things simply could not be better over here — I hope it’s likewise wherever you are! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya!

Spring chickens -- hey, they look a lot like YOU!!
Spring chickens — hey, they look a lot like YOU!!

 

 

 

This could be the last time you see me for a while…

Naturally, now that I am in my final course of school, preparing to graduate, it is clearly going to be one of the most time-consuming courses I’ve taken so far.  So much reading and writing that it won’t be funny, gang. Luckily, I’ll get one week off for Thanksgiving, but other than that, I don’t know if you’ll see me here or not over the next several weeks.

After that, I will graduate and then have time to start going through all my belongings, throwing out what I don’t absolutely need, and then packing up all the rest of it, preparing for my next long-distance move.

The trip to NYC last week got cancelled at the last minute, due to a death in the actress’s family down in D.C. I was disappointed, but soon enough, I will be back there permanently. For now, we are working on Skype until the airfares go back down again after the holidays.

I know I keep telling you how excited I am to be working on this project, but I must say it once again: I am so excited to be working on this theater project!! Yesterday when we were Skyping, I found out that I already know the director (I never worked with him, but I lived in the same apartment building as he and his wife for many years.) And I know the stage manager — to put it mildly. It is my ex-husband! I said, “You’re kidding??!! Wayne is the stage manager?” He is perfectly suited to that role, btw, and he and I still get along really well, so, wow, what a cozy little group. The only people I don’t know yet are the music director and the agent who’s repping it.

Between Skyping every Wednesday now with the actress, and Skyping every Saturday with Kevin (my writing partner in Brooklyn, on a different project), and this colossal ton of homework required for my final class, and my regular ton of part-time jobs… it leaves little brain-space for the re-writes of the TV pilot, but I still manage to squeeze it in. Even though all of this stuff is really exciting, it is stressful and leads to lack of sleep and to depression. I sure do wish I didn’t have to work quite so many part-time jobs.  But the end is in sight.  Soon enough I will be able to concentrate on my ministry and my writing — and my new/old relationship with my guy-friend back in New York.

I just have to keep hanging in there. My depression is very low-grade at this point and I know that as things progress and change and end and new beginnings begin, the depression will evaporate. So, on that happy note, I’m gonna scoot and start reading the SEVENTEEN (!!!!) (yep — 17) chapters in my textbooks that I need to write papers on this weekend.

Oh, btw, here’s my theme song! It gets me through. Give it a try, it might help you, too!!

All righty!! See ya, gang. Thank you so much for visiting!

 

Autumn in New York, Baby!

Yes, I finally know the dates of my trip to NYC to begin working on that incredible musical that I am so excited about!! It will be in just a few weeks, gang, so I will get a chance to be back in New York in the fall, my favorite time of year.

I will be staying in a hotel around Midtown-ish, so hopefully I will get some free minutes to spend in Central Park among all those splendid trees.

Autumn in Central Park
Autumn in Central Park

However, I might actually be too busy to get a chance to do that this trip. We shall see!

This play is shaping up to be just incredible, folks. I can’t wait until I am at liberty to talk more about it.  It is a one-woman show about an African-American actress — this is not the Pearl Bailey play. That one is next in line. But it is looking like this current show will occupy me/us for a few years, if all goes according to plan!

Yes, I know. You’re wondering how on earth I have time to do that, while still being in Divinity school full time, and trying to come up with a final-ish draft of the TV pilot — oh, and, like work at all my 17 million part time jobs… Here, I’ll give you a hint. (That video explains how I do it.) At least school is almost over.  Only about 8 more weeks.

Plus, “that guy” up in the Hudson Valley is going to try to get a train into the city to see me for 14 seconds! Oh, I am so excited! I cannot wait.

Meanwhile, life here is going pretty good.  Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day. I celebrated by going to my favorite grocery store: Aldi’s! They have tons of autumnal delights right now, like pumpkin frozen waffles, pumpkin seed tortilla chips, pumpkin soup, pumpkin-chipotle pasta sauce, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice tea, special fall wines — oh, and they actually have PUMPKINS, too! Mostly, I bought baking supplies because I love to bake this time of year. I’m not exactly sure when I think I’m going to have time to do all this baking, but we will find out!

Here's me, with a freshly baked dish of silverware (??!)
Here’s me, with a freshly baked dish of silverware (??!)

Okay!! Well, I gotta get crackin’ around here! Thanks for visiting, folks. I hope you have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are and whatever exciting thing you’re doing! I leave you with this romantic  incentive to get yourselves to the Big Apple this fall! We can wave to each other! All right, see ya!

 

 

The world is askew!

I don’t know if you noticed it, too, but in my corner of the universe, the energy was seriously strange yesterday.  Everything and everyone seemed off balance, including moi. It was not a day I feel like repeating so I hope today will be back to normal. I guess we’ll find out.

We’ll also find out if Scotland votes for Independence today, which will be very interesting.  I get the feeling they will vote in favor of it. Not because I can predict things like that, but only because the world is in such chaos right now, why not throw an Independent Scotland into that crazy mix? In the sense that nothing seems to make sense anymore and only the unexpected can be counted on, then an Independent Scotland will fit right in.  Again, we’ll soon find out.

Pam Grout‘s new book, E-Cubed, is out now. I started reading it yesterday and that, at least, gave me some really great energy.  I am one of those people whose life was profoundly changed by A Course In Miracles and I really love her simple, fun, joyous approach to who we really are. So far, I like this new book even better than E-Squared, which was a NY Times bestseller, if you aren’t familiar with it.

E-Cubed
E-Cubed

On the TV pilot re-writing front… I have decided it is time to pull back a bit and try to remember where I was originally going with this thing! I think I want to go back to square one and really focus on the audience I created this story for; maybe  that will help me find that voice again. Because right now, it is based on story notes I got from the producers and that can be a very un-targeted way of writing. (Yes, I created a new word there: un-targeted. Feel free to use it whenever your own writing is simply let loose into the stratosphere with no recognizable purpose.) The results are vague and just sitting there, although on the conference call the other day, one of the producers said that it was “going in the right direction.” However, rocket ships launched into space are “going in the right direction” but if that rocket is un-targeted (!!), not specifically aimed at anything, it has no purpose. So back to square one I go!

Meanwhile, the pages from the play from NYC did indeed arrive and I am so incredibly excited to be working on this project, even in such a small capacity as the editor of dialogue. It is an original musical, a one-woman show — a one-African-American-woman show — and, to me, it feels like a cross between Rent and Hedwig & the Anrgy Inch.

These are the same people that I will be working with on the Pearl Bailey play (as the writer), and perhaps even another musical down the line (as the writer again), and I couldn’t be more excited, gang. Really.  Theater has always been my first love, and musical theater, specifically. In fact when I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be Julie Andrews. I spent many carefree hours blithely dancing around the playroom in the basement, singing  along to the original cast recording of “I Could Have Danced All Night”  from My Fair Lady. At some point — when I was around 12, I think — I realized that if Julie Andrews already existed there was no point in pursuing “being her” when I grew up, so I wound up being me, instead. But I do still have a fondness in my heart for Broadway musicals, that’s for sure. And I am so excited by this unexpected turn in my life right now.

Okay, I am almost done with the Church Administration class — this is the final week. So I’d better get crackin’ on the homework. But I leave you with the video below! (Just picture her as a 5-year-old me, downstairs in our playroom, in Cleveland circa 1965…) Have a great Thursday, gang, wherever you are, and if it winds up being just as insane as yesterday, then let’s vow to get through it together!! We’ll meet back here tomorrow, in whatever shape we’re in! See ya then! Thanks for visiting!