Tag Archives: New York City

Such good things!

Only a ten-day absence this time! Pretty good! (Of course, it’s still nothing like the years & years & years where I blogged every single solitary day, including Sundays & holidays! But onward!)

Okay! Remember that great news I couldn’t discuss in my last post? Well, it is now official and so I can share it.  And I am so happy about it.

Sandra Caldwell, the actress in New York City that I write with/for, has just landed the leading role in Charm, a play by Philip Dawkins. It will be having its Off-Broadway debut as the fall season opener at Manhattan’s MCC Theater beginning Labor Day weekend.

(I’m planning on attending opening night and I’ve already bought a new dress for the occasion — one of those Calvin Klein floral fit & flare dresses that everyone is wearing these days.) (Although I might change my mind at the last minute, since I am usually a plain black sheath-wearing sort of gal… We’ll see if I ultimately opt once more for living in the past, or taking a bold leap into being like everybody else!)

I’m excited about this show for many reasons. One being that Sandra is my friend and this is her return to the New York stage after a long hiatus.  Another reason being that her decision to focus again on stage work was made a couple years ago, wherein she hired me to not only help her with her one-woman musical, but also to be the head writer for her production company, with a focus on theater.

Charm was very well received in Chicago and promises to be a real winner in New York, as well, and it looks additionally promising that the one-woman musical Sandra and I have been working on for several years will get produced and find an off-Broadway stage in New York in the near future.

Even though I was a singer-songwriter for many, many years — in my halcyon days in New York, before switching to full-time fiction writing in the 1990s — theater was always my first love, ever since I was a wee bonnie lassie.

I love all kinds of theater: Jr. High and High School theater; college theater, Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway theater; and even the occasional “go down these dank ancient stairs and enter a clammy, dark, hell-hole abyss theater space” to watch stupifyingly experimental theater where none of the actors even get paid. I love it all.

And even while I’m really excited with the progress I’ve made the last several years with my TV Pilot scripts and TV MOW scripts, theater still excites me, probably even more. So with Sandra’s upcoming success (I know she is going to be superb), will come more and more opportunities to write theater projects for her.

Dare I say that I couldn’t be happier?? (Let us return briefly to the unbridled joy of the American Housewife! If my soul could project onto a screen or perhaps a hologram, it would look like her!)

Well, all righty, gang!!

And in terms of re-writes for my TV Pilot/MOW script, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge — I have made great progress in re-thinking the story. Not the plot, not the characters, not the setting; but the story itself and how it gets told. I’ve been re-watching tons of old Midsomer Murders episodes and getting delightfully re-inspired.  Even though graphically violent & angry police procedurals are all “the rage” now (excuse the pun) (and even the more recent Midsomer Murders have gone more in that direction), the older shows, with their intensely quirky characters interest me a lot more and that’s more in keeping with how I envision the Tea Cozy Murder Club characters. So off we go!

Okay, thanks for visiting, gang. And have a wonderful weekend, whatever you wind up doing! I leave you with this little ditty from Mame, it’s a song that I’ve pretty much lived my life by since childhood, come what may!

See ya!

What a relief!

Finally, last night — just mere moments before the airing of the newest episode of Riverdale on the CW — I finished my revisions of Act One of Cleveland’s Burning.

I think I’m happy with it, but I’ll know better once I go over it again here this morning. Last night, however, I was extremely happy with it.

As an aside, I want to say that I really loved how, at least for now, they’ve done away with the pesky problem of pedophilia in Riverdale [Spoiler Aert!!] by simply forcing Miss Grundy to leave town… I guess we’ll see how that pans out. (And, you know, back in the day when I was in high school, they never asked heterosexual teachers to leave town; they basically just told the teenagers who were sleeping with their teachers to “knock it off.”  Ah, the 70s! Gotta love ’em!) (If you were a gay teacher, however, your life was essentially over and they would have put you on the front page of the newspaper.)

Anyway. Back to the topic of re-writes. It is a strange phenomenon, and one I go through with every single project I write — I know exactly what I want to say, yet getting it onto the page can take, literally, forever. At first, I go merrily along, typing, typing… And then suddenly, I hit an impasse and wonder how on earth to get words onto the page. I don’t know why that happens, but it always does. It’s not as if I suddenly lose my vocabulary, or my sense of how grammar is structured. I can see what the characters are doing. Yet I just can’t get the words out!

It makes me INSANE.

However, I can look at all my completed, published projects (of which I have many), and see the proof there that the condition is always temporary, so I stick with it, grueling as it is.

What tripped me up yesterday was having my character go into a diner and order a cup of coffee at the counter. It felt wrong. At first, I thought it was the counter attendant’s age — so I changed him from a teenager to a 50-year-old. Then I had my character pay for the coffee with a dime. (In 1963, a cup of coffee cost a dime.) Then I had him leave a tip. Then I deleted the tip because it was taking up precious screen time. But then the neighbor girl puts a nickel in the jukebox! Suddenly all this screen time is being “spent,” as it were, on dimes and nickels.  It was really just ridiculous. So I stopped everything and walked away. I flopped down on the bed and read several chapters of Peril At End House, c -1932 by Agatha Christie and all was right with the world again.

So back to the desk I went and I realized that the character is simply at the counter drinking a cup of coffee! For heaven’s sake, just get rid of the counter attendant altogether, along with all the dimes and nickels. And finally, the rest of the scenes came and the act was over! Commercial break time!! Yay.

And last night was a great feeling — to finally finish Act One.

Act One in a one-hour TV drama is the longest chunk. Everything else after this gets shorter and shorter, so I really do feel a great sense of relief. Especially since, this coming Tuesday, a mere 5 days away, the notes for Tea Cozy Murder Club will be coming my way… And the final, final, FINAL edits for the one-woman musical I’m working on with Sandra Caldwell in New York are sitting atop my desk, awaiting my attention…

It’s no wonder I wake-up tired.

Okay!! Have a happy Friday, gang, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! And, as always, thanks for visiting! See ya!

No trick left unturned!! Gotta love it!
No trick left unturned!! Gotta love it!

 

 

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!

 

 

Off to New York! At least for a few days…

Yes, gang, I am finally off to New York for about 5 days!! I cannot wait!  I will be working on the staged reading of my screenplay, Tell My Bones, with the lead actress and the stage manager, up in Rhinebeck, NY.

Yes, this is where I’m moving to when I finally sell this house and move back to New York.  If you have never been there, Rinebeck is a real gem. And it is only a commuter-train-ride from the heart of Manhattan. So, for me, after having lived in the heart of Manhattan for over a quarter of a century (!!) and struggled like mad in my halcyon days, this is a much lovelier option as I squeak through middle age.

Rhinebeck, the village...
Rhinebeck, the village…
Rhinebeck, the surrounding town...
Rhinebeck, the surrounding town…

But back to the staged reading… It has been postponed until September, gang, because too many of the actors were already out of town, doing regional theater for the summer. So the lead actress and I, and the stage manager, are going to get all the little production-ducks in a row, so that we can hit the ground running once everyone is back in Manhattan come September.

Meanwhile, I am working like a crazy person, trying to get two weeks’ worth of homework turned in this weekend, so that I don’t have to even think about homework while I’m out of town.  Then, the moment I return from New York, it will be my birthday!! That fabulous CAKE time of year!! I will be a glorious 55 years old, gang!! I cannot believe it.

Okay, I gotta scoot. I’m teaching a writing class in about 7 minutes… Have a wonderful, sunny Saturday wherever you are, folks, and whatever you wind up doing! Thanks for visiting. See ya!!

Happy Birthday, Marilyn! July 22nd!
Happy Birthday, Marilyn! July 22nd!

So much stuff going on!

Holy Moly. What a terrifically jam-packed couple of weeks it’s been, and I don’t mean that in the best way. Although, overall, everything is great.

First off — so what did you think of the Mad Men finale? I wasn’t completely sure how I felt, so I watched it twice. I came to the conclusion that each of the characters resolved in ways that were realistic to the characters overall, and that everyone, except Betty, of course, has a reasonably happy ending. More importantly, it felt as if the characters’ lives were going on into a palpable future that we as TV-viewers can only dream about… So even though I felt deflated after watching the final episode, I think that was only because I was sad to see it end.

Although kudos for closing with that killer Coke commercial! I vividly recall sitting in my family room one evening when I was 11 years old and seeing that Coke commercial on TV for the first time. I was blown away by it, as was most of America…

Hands down, the most stressful part of these past couple weeks was when my beloved cat, Doris (photo above) went missing for 8 long days!! She was one of the semi-feral kittens born in my basement 2 years ago and had never been outside in her life. Somehow, she got out and I couldn’t find her and it was beyond stressful and heartbreaking and exhausting.

Through the help of many kind cat rescuers online, I learned how to find and catch a terrified, extremely timid semi-feral cat.  I tell you, they hide right under our noses, but indeed, as I was emphatically guaranteed by the professional lost-cat trappers, we can’t see them but they are there! They’re watching us, but are too terrified to come out of hiding until the wee small hours of the morning. The whole adventure was maddening. I was out in my dark backyard, in my red Wellies and my cotton nightgown, at 4 a.m. for several incredibly humid days running, catching glimpses of her but to no avail!!

But I finally trapped her at 5:09 a.m. this past Monday morning — in a humane trap — and brought her back into the fold.

Other more upbeat things: School is going incredibly great. I still don’t know if I can keep up this notion of being back in school with homework to do every single day, but so far, I am loving it. There’s honestly no reason for me to still be in school, I’m already an ordained minister with a degree in Pastoral Ministry. However, for now, it keeps my mind off this never-ending limbo of “when will I move back to NY?”

Appropriately enough, though, through some “miracle,” I am on vacation from school this week. Just in time to take on a new web content client who needed help with new content “yesterday” (it required a ton of research & writing immediately). That was turned in this morning, and now I have to draft two killer 500-word essays for a writer’s lab I seriously want to get into, and the deadline is June 1st.

The staged reading in NYC of my screenplay Tell My Bones: The Helen LaFrance Story is still moving ahead. It is going to happen SOON, gang. As in “the next few weeks.” And — I’ve been asked to be the Narrator, so I will be on stage with the actors, instead of lounging around stress-free in the audience. But I am super excited and I hope all of you can get to NYC and attend!! Yay!!

Okay, well, I guess that’s my update for right now. I gotta get crackin’ on those 500-word essays. I hope you’re having a wonderful month of May, wherever you are and whatever’s been going on in your world. Thanks for visiting, folks. See ya!!