Tag Archives: Sandra Caldwell

More Good News!

Yes! Finally!

The original one-woman musical that I’ve been working on with Sandra Caldwell for the last 5 years — the play we finally finished when I went to work with her in Rhinebeck, NY this past October — might actually have a very exciting first run in Toronto, Canada, gang!

It’s too soon to go into the details, but it is extremely exciting and prestigious, and bodes very well for a comparable Off-Broadway opening in NYC.

I simply could not be happier, gang.  This means that, yes, both plays that I’ve been working steadily on with Sandra for the last few years are likely to have openings, in 2 different countries, at pretty much the same time!

I will keep you posted!!

In other good, but bittersweet news: Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever solo album was just entered into the Grammy’s Hall of Fame as a record of outstanding cultural significance for the last 25 years.

I beg to differ — surely it’s only been about 25 minutes, not 25 YEARS!! Oh, people! What the heck?? How can it possibly be 25 years already?

I loved that album. Still love that album. Still play it. Was, in fact, playing it yesterday morning in my kitchen when I read the Grammy news on my iPhone.

In fact, that part bothered me most.

ME: Wait a minute. This record I am listening to right now is already 25 years old? So, like, how old does that make me??!!

Please don’t feel compelled to answer that.

Anyway. I remember Full Moon Fever coming out like it was the proverbial yesterday. I loved the song Free Fallin’ but I remember not liking the video very much. I was not a huge fan of videos, in general. I felt that videos robbed a lot of imaginative power from the songs.  Anyone’s songs. I guess because I loved that song so much, the video could only irritate me.

But that album is full of amazing rock & roll songs. In fact, Running Down a Dream, which I think I posted here only yesterday (?) is from that album.

My favorite song on that album, though, is one that I feel speaks directly to me:  I have a near pathological issue with doubt. Doubt is something that plagues me. Over the years, it unraveled a lot of what should have been good things in my life. I still struggle with it, but I have been working really, really hard on it for the past couple months and making good progress with it — my debilitating struggles with doubt.

This is, in all honesty, the song I go to when I am really floundering. Some mornings have been so bad, doubt-wise, that I have to literally play this song really loudly before I can even get out of bed. It helps me kind of get back to reality, to realize that people are depending on me not to lose my fucking mind. (Sadly, it’s no joke.) This particular song is often the only thing that helps me.

And I leave you to it, gang!! And thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya!

Oh, People!

Yes!

Yesterday, I did a final read-through of my theatrical adaptation of Tell My Bones and then sent it off to Sandra .

Yes, you read that right! I finally finished it, after many versions, many drafts, many hours of staring at copious amounts of notes and declaring aloud, “What the hell am I doing!?” (This went on for a couple of years.)

It is done. I am intensely happy with it, gang. And the best part was getting a text from Sandra last evening — a text with many exclamation points (!!!) saying how much she loved it.

So, we will either do it in Florida, or go directly to NYC with it. I still don’t know for sure, but it is done. And I am just so thrilled.

Today, I need to really, really, really update the show bible for my CLEVELAND TV pilot, so that I can safely put it on the back burner without forgetting all the many changes I made to the plot, and then I want to focus on one of the new works-in-progress. Whichever one speaks loudest to me right now:

The Hurley Falls Mysteries: Down to the Meadows of Sleep
Blessed By Light
Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse

We shall see, gang! We shall see. I still have 3 other TV projects I’m developing, and 2 more plays with Sandra that we’re developing, and then a play I’m writing that can’t involve Sandra because it’s a one-man play. But all of that can wait.

I hope this finds you gearing up for a perfect Friday, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting. I love you, gang. See ya!

Life, Re-writes, Love, & the Muse

Happy as I am with the new direction I’ve taken the past couple weeks with the Hurley Falls Mysteries, I am also still dealing with the theatrical adaptation of my screenplay, Tell My Bones, the life story of the Outsider Artist, Helen LaFrance. I’m adapting it for the stage specifically for Sandra Caldwell.

When I first wrote the screenplay, things like #BlackLivesMatter hadn’t happened yet, although it was getting ready to. And even while the screenplay was well received at film festivals and among producers, the climate Off-Broadway for plays about African-American lives has changed considerably in just a couple of years. So, even while I’m okay with how I’m staging the play, how I’m presenting the music, the sets and the characters, I’m finding that the entire way I present Helen’s life has to seriously be re-framed to fit the tone people want to experience now.

5 years ago, when I went to Kentucky and met with Helen, she was already in her 90s, in a nursing home, and in a wheelchair due to a paralyzing stroke. I walked into the day room of the nursing home, where she sat in front of a canvas, preparing to paint (she’d taught herself to paint with her left hand because the stroke had left her paralyzed down her right side), and I said hello.

She barely looked at me. She knew I had come because I wanted to write a screenplay about her life.  Still, she was not impressed, and her greeting to me, after I’d driven 12 hours to meet her, was: “What do you want?”

After a couple hours of talking, she warmed up and ended the conversation by giving me the rights to write her life story, and after that, I had access to all her paintings, her interviews, and even her private diaries.  In all the research I did, while it was clear she had to contend with racism and the unfairness of how blacks were treated in Kentucky, her art, her diaries, and her conversation were focused more on simply being a woman who was always trying to find enough time and money to do her art.

There was so much beauty in how she saw her life. Just so much beauty. A lot of heartbreak that centered on the people she loved who had died, but not very much about having to rise above oppression.  Just needing enough time & money to paint. And so I told her life story in a very particular way, which now has to be re-framed. Same life, but I have to focus on it in a different way.

My seriously long-time, good friend in L.A., producer/composer Peitor Angell,  is eventually going to be helping me with the musical arrangements for the show, but yesterday he agreed to help me try to re-think the telling of the story, too. So I feel excited about that project again.  You know, the energy of one good friend can turn your whole world around.

I don’t need to have this adaptation done until the end of this year, since Sandra and I will be focused on doing the staged reading of her one-woman musical in NYC this fall. Still it has bogged me down emotionally that I couldn’t make better progress with Tell My Bones, so it feels good to feel encouraged again.

The other thing that has taken me unaware, that is also a really incredibly wonderful thing, is that the Muse has come back into my life! [Muse – noun – a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.]

After having been blessed all my life with the beneficence of a Muse, I haven’t had the energy of the Muse in my world for several years now. It has been depressing. Even though I can still write without a Muse, it’s more laborious, a lot less joyful from moment to moment. And when I least expected it, and had pretty much given up on ever feeling that energy again, in he walked. Right into my field of vision.

I felt like Bill & Ted in their excellent adventure:

I don’t know him at all, although I’ve now seen him a few times. Yet suddenly life in my inner world is 360% not the same. So beautiful. I am so, so blessed. My inner world now is a deluge of inspiration, keen feelings, intensely beautiful images that my mind & heart respond to. And all of that makes its way to the page, to benefit you, gentle reader!

That is simply the very best way to write. And on that note, I’m going to go… get some lunch!! Yay! Have a super Saturday, gang, wherever the Muse takes you. Thanks for visiting. See ya.

 

Updates on Happiness, Raccoons, Writing & More!

It’s a stunning morning here in the Hinterlands! Hard to believe it’s supposed to be raining, yet again, by this evening.  I guess we’ll see. The only thing I don’t like about the rain, is that I have to go around and close all 22 of the windows I had already opened.

Since I last posted here, there have been all sorts of interesting things going on. For starters, my friend Diane came out to the Hinterlands and helped me FINALLY get my main barn door OPEN.

Yes! That means I was finally able to get into the main section of my barn. The part where the horse was kept long, long ago. The other section, the part where the buggy was kept, was really easy to get into from day one. And inside that section was the half-door for feeding the long-ago horse once  kept in the stall side, so I could at least look into that side of the barn. But what a cool feeling to actually be able to get into the other side and look at all the ancient stuff that’s still in there.

For one thing, we discovered that the barn had a front addition built onto it at some distant point in the long ago past. So the current (really old) front of the barn (pictured above) has perfectly preserved the original old front of the barn that was built in 1910.

I was going to get you photos of all this, but as it happened, at the last minute, a friend needed a place to store his 1965 VW camper van as he headed out to Yellowstone National Park for the summer. Since I can’t really afford to do the thousands of dollars worth of work that the barn needs right now, I offered him the use of the barn since we were finally able to get the door open, and now a great big VW camper van is taking up the entire space for the next few months…

Not this one — but this is a very reasonable facsimile!

 

There is enough room left along one side of the inside of the barn to kind of get one of the side doors of the camper open a smidge. So my friend generously offered that anytime I wanted to just hang out inside  the camper, I could!

Well, that was too cute! While it is often really fun to hang out inside those old VW camper vans, I have an entire new house to hang out in, as well as a really cool porch! But I did appreciate the offer, nevertheless.

My porch, by the way, is wonderful. Quite a few friends have already come by my new 117-year-old house in the Hinterlands  and they all immediately head for a chair on the side porch, plop down and get comfortable.  Not only is the porch really welcoming, but the screen door also opens right onto the kitchen, where the fridge is always stocked with beer. (Not the kind of beer that I drink, btw. Everybody around here seems to like Bud Light. Whereas, loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that I like Newcastle Brown Ale — a far cry from Bud Light. My guy-friend was over the other day to say farewell before heading off to Alaska for a big fishing tournament, and he accidentally helped himself to my one and only bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. He said, “What the hell is this??!!” And I replied, “It’s MINE!!!” and I grabbed it away from him. My hostessing politeness only extends so far…)

Anyhow.  Not only is it so cool to finally have a great porch of my own that people actually stop by and hang out on, regardless of how deep into the Hinterlands I have gotten, but it is also cool that neighbors drive by — neighbors that I have not met yet — and they all smile and wave.

I don’t know, gang; I think I somehow ended up in Mayberry…

Mayberry — The Andy Griffith Show TV town

Yes, I am so happy here.

And for those of you waiting with bated breath on any updates regarding my raccoon… Ah yes. The dear little thing is indeed a female, and already has a pack of little cubs down inside the hollow of the tree.

No not these kinds of raccoon cubs…

These kind!!

And these kind get up onto the roof and create havoc a lot more frequently than the other kind do… Well, we’ll see how it goes as the unbelievably cute destructiveness pervades the upcoming summer months.

Meanwhile, I have been getting literally tons of inspiration for both of the mystery books I’ve had on the back burner for nearly 2 years (The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge (also a TV pilot), and The Miracle Cats: The Case of the Purloined Passport).  I just need to get some breathing room from the theater projects and the Cleveland’s Burning TV pilot. However, all of those projects are looking so incredibly promising right now, that they all seem to need my attention before I can get back to writing novels.

I can’t go into detail on the blog right now re: the one-woman musical I’m working on with Sandra Caldwell in NYC, but it is a really exciting development connected with the workshop/staged reading of the show. And it continues to bode really, really well for the stage adaptation I’m working on of  Tell My Bones, the play about Helen LaFrance that I’m writing as a vehicle for Sandra.

However, regarding my TV pilot, once titled Cleveland’s Burning but now known more affectionately as Untitled Cleveland Drama, I can say here that we have had interest in the project from several places within the last few days, including OWN, ABC-Disney, and Act 4 Entertainment. This is all just initial interest, gang, but it still excites me beyond belief.  I came so close to simply shelving the project forever, after working with several other producers who wound up not really sharing my vision for it and who completely exasperated me. But after I hooked up with the EVP of Development at Bohemia Group (for the Tea Cozy Murder Club pilot),  things with Cleveland’s Burning came back to life with them, specifically with the EVP’s all-out enthusiasm for the Cleveland project.

Well, as usual, the morning has now pretty much evaporated while I’ve been sitting here blogging at the computer! I must scurry, gang, and get some other stuff done.

Hope you have a terrific Monday that leads into a really amazing week, wherever you are! Thanks for visiting, gang.  See ya!

“That’s all, folks!”

 

 

Whew!

I think I am finally, finally, FINALLY present and accounted for. Alive again in my own life. Home at last.  I slept for 9 and a half hours last night — uninterrupted except for the very nearby passing of a railroad train (see photo somewhere below that shows just how close the train tracks are to my new house). I never sleep for more than about 7 hours, so getting so much uninterrupted sleep was kind of shocking to me, but in a good way.

And I had these really great, vivid, active dreams about — guess what? — moving into a new house that had tons of windows! I can’t remember the last time (or if ever) I had a dream that was not only happy but that also reflected the actual life I was currently living.  How do you process that? Dreaming happy, then waking up happy, then remembering I had a happy dream, and then realizing, oh, that’s just like my life right now!  Like, did I die and I haven’t yet figured out that I died? I guess time will tell!

Oh, and by the way, “happy” Good Friday to one and all. (Speaking of dying and continuing to consciously live on while dead…)

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a week. Before I went into contract on this house that I ended up buying, some other people were under contract to buy the house but their mortgage was declined. However, before their mortgage was declined, they set about making improvements to the house — wiring and plumbing. But when the mortgage was declined, they dropped everything and simply walked away, leaving things half-done.

When I had the house inspected, the inspector told me some wiring upgrades had been made but that I would need an electrician to come in and add a new line. Well, I’m actually intelligent, and I also have a killer vocabulary, which adds to the overall aura of my presumed intelligence, but to be brutally honest, most of the time I wander around in a partial dream-state, thinking about everything under the sun except for what’s right in front of me, and the things people are saying directly to me go mostly unregistered in my brain, even while I nod my head and say, “sure, okay.”

So, imagine my surprise when it became suddenly clear that my kitchen was a wiring nightmare and a serious fire hazard. Things were turning off & on by themselves; outlets were melting. And then, wafting up into my conscious awareness comes: Ah, so this is what he meant by get an electrician in here.

Hence, the electricians came for many hours. It wasn’t too terribly expensive, and they fixed everything and I was content, and then the following morning, a bright orange emergency tag appeared on my kitchen door that said that my water meter was going in reverse and needed fixing as soon as possible. (“Did anyone come in here and do some plumbing, ma’am? They put this line on backwards!”)

Ah, well, that was fixed, too.  And speaking of the railroad train (above)…

I wonder if I’m ever going to get tired of the excitement of the train rushing by? It goes by about once a day, and a few nights a week. (And by “night” I mean 3 o’clock in the morning.)  First, it’s the “ding ding ding ding” of the gates lowering while the red lights start flashing; then the train whistle starts screaming in the distance and I can feel the rushing rumble coming  my way. This is when the cats scurry and hide, whereas I rush to one of my many windows in anticipation of that monster train coming into view and then hurtling past.

Awesome, in an otherwise serene and quiet town.

Oh, but here’s another thing I love. The guy next door (married with very young children) has a rock band and they occasionally practice out in his garage.  It’s down at the end of the backyard, out on the alley, next to where my horse & buggy barn is. The sound is not deafening, but I can certainly hear it. Some sort of death-metal type tempo. And while death-metal wouldn’t be listed up there as a favorite musical genre of mine, as someone who was a professional musician/singer/songwriter for a really long time,  the sound of that band practicing in the garage always brings a smile to my face.  While everything imaginable in my own personal life has changed, in other outer, outside world ways, nothing changes. And that is comforting.

So. I had a conference call with Sandra yesterday and now we must get back on track. Rehearsals for the staged reading (in NYC) of the one-woman musical The Guide to being Fabulous begin on April 14th in Rhinebeck, NY.  The staged reading is for production funds for mounting the show Off-Broadway at (if I may say so myself) a really prestigious Off-Broadway venue in midtown. So it is very exciting, folks.

I will only be needed for tweeks and minor re-writes, so I won’t have to attend most of the rehearsals, so I have to buckle down and use this time for finishing the stage adaptation of my Helen LaFrance script, Tell My Bones (also for Sandra).  It’s good to feel that urgency; it gives me focus.  And that is what this move to this new house was all about: A place to get really settled; to call home; to sit in peaceful solitude and write (with the occasional train and rock band spiking my consciousness!)

All right. Enjoy Good Friday, wherever you are, gang. Remember, Good Friday is a reminder that all of life is re-born, it never dies, we’re all sacred, eternal, joyful beings, created as we are creating. What could be better than that? Okay!

Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya!

This old barn is just down the road a piece, but it’s been enhanced here by photoshop. The Mail Pouch logo is really, really faded now.

Happy, Happy 2018!!

Well, except for yesterday’s “reblogging” of Ted Nottingham‘s recent video post, I haven’t been here since before Christmas.

So you probably don’t know that we had a white Christmas here! Yes! It snowed Christmas Eve!! What could be better? (BTW, I had the happiest Christmas Eve ever — probably in my whole life. And not just because it snowed; the snow was more the proverbial icing on the top.) Just so much great stuff going on and so much exciting stuff to look forward to.

And we had a seriously white –and freezing cold–New Year’s Eve here last night.  More snow than the Hinterlands has seen in a while, with temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I love snow! So these frosty developments only cause me to rejoice. Yay!

I was very tempted, yesterday, to jump into the sporty Honda Fit and drive deeper into the Hinterlands to see what my new house looks like in the snow! But, well, as  much as I love the cold and the snow, I really, really love not driving around in it. So here I remained.

One of the reasons I am having the happiest holidays, ever, is because of that new (very old) house. And I’m sure I will have plenty of winters ahead wherein I will discover what that house looks like in the snow, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about that great house all the time now. I just love that house, and I can’t wait to live in that strange and crazy tiny town (whose location, btw, cuts more than an hour off my drive to & from New York).

That said, though, I still have to get through the bank appraisal and the closing before I will know for 100% certain that it is my new house, even though it feels like home already. However, because of the looming bank appraisal and the official closing, I haven’t actually announced to people that I have a new house — except, of course, to you, gentle readers, who reside all over the world…

Another reason that it’s been the happiest of holidays here is because one of my theater projects with Sandra Caldwell in New York City is on track for Off-Broadway. I can’t discuss the details yet, and won’t be able to for a while, but things are going so great with that project.  I am so excited. And, out in L.A., TV-pilot shopping season begins in January (which is, of course, officially upon us!), so I am very excited about the prospects of my Untitled Cleveland Drama (once known as Cleveland’s Burning) very soon being sold.

The other thing that makes me so happy, of course, and the thing that makes all the other above-mentioned things a lot less stressful and even more delightful, is my new friend.  His personality, his experiences, his approach to life continue to surprise me anew every day.  He is such a cool guy and just so darned fearless.  It is such a joy to have someone in my life whose response to things is “Let’s do it!”, instead of giving the long litany of all the negative things that could go wrong with any given idea, as most people do.  God knows, I have been inundated with negative people throughout most of my life, going way, way back to my wee bonny girlhood, so he could not be more refreshing, nor his arrival in my life more perfectly timed.

All right, on that delightfully cheerful note, I’m off to the kitchen to make a huge pot of soup on this cold, snowy, frosty day.

Have a terrific 2018 wherever you are in the world and with whatever you’re doing. As always, thanks for visiting, gang! See ya.

 

Still Alive!

I know; you’d never know it by how long it’s been since I’ve posted here!

BTW, thanks to everyone who sent comments to Iris re: her new book of flash fiction (post below), and also to those of you who bought it! She is a great writer. (And a good friend of mine.) Even if you don’t buy her book, you can find a whole lot of her flash fiction (and poetry) all over the Internet.

I won’t go into detail about all that has been going on here. Nothing terrible; just intense. Pace never stopping.  But last night, I got a great night’s sleep, and today I feel energized again. So, onward.

First and foremost: Here’s where I’m going either Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week!

I can’t wait! I haven’t been to an actual movie theater in months. Nearly a year, in fact.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp‘s. And one thing I really love about him is that he doesn’t bleach his teeth. And I’m not talking about his hideous Jack Sparrow teeth, but just his regular old teeth — just like movie stars  from days of yore who simply had teeth.

Once, a few years ago, I tried watching the much-acclaimed movie, Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey.  From the start, it reminded me, for some odd reason, of Tender Mercies (which I liked a lot better), but I stuck with it, until McConaughey, a hermit on a deserted island in the middle of (sort of) nowhere, hiding from the law, etc., opens his mouth and reveals a set of stunningly blinding, bright, white teeth.

What kind of lone-hermit-fugitive, living on crumbs of food brought to him by a couple of rogue boys,  is that??!! I lost all interest in the film from that moment forward, because I could no longer believe in any of it. It all just became Matthew McConaughey with a set of artificially gleaming teeth. I could not focus on a single other thing, so I gave up watching it. And came away thinking, Wow, Tender Mercies was such a great little movie. Where did the years go?

Anyway!

Yes. I am officially incredibly behind schedule on the theatrical adaptation of my teleplay, Tell My Bones. Only because way too much has been going on in my life (which I’ll discuss in detail at some later date), that I cannot seem to: a.) find enough time to get enough writing done; and b.) concentrate when I do have enough time to get enough writing done.

Just this past week, I went through that ridiculous thing where I took some very decent writing and decided it needed to be revised, yet again, only to discover that I was completely out of my mind! Not the best frame of mind in which to undertake anything! So, now, I gotta go back and re-do the redo-ing! Arrrgh.

I decided that what I must do, if I hope to achieve anything at all with this adaptation, is channel Jean Toomer. So that’s next on my list. Channeling Jean Toomer. If you hear weird incantations and smell strange wafting aromas coming from my corner of the world, that’s what’ll be going on. I’ll be channeling Jean Toomer.

On a similar, less silly note, however; I spoke with Sandra yesterday and in no uncertain terms, she informed me that there will be a staged reading in NYC for one of our other theater projects this coming February or March, and not only must I absolutely attend this time (loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that, even though I’d bought 2 brand new dresses, I never made it to NYC this past September to attend the opening night of Charm, in which Sandra had the lead, and to which many  important casting people and theater investors were going, because I was trapped in this “have to buy a new house” nonsense out here in the Hinterlands). And not only am I going to have to absolutely be there this time, I absolutely have to have the revisions of Tell My Bones done and ready to go and right there with me.

An additional arrrgh… and a bit of a grumble, grumble; crap, I’ve got to get this done already!

So I anticipate being completely crazy for the next few months.  But, after THAT, the TV pilot-shopping season begins in L.A., and as most of you know so well by now, my pilot (once known as Cleveland’s Burning but now called Untitled Cleveland Drama) is on the slate to be shopped and all of us involved could not be more excited! So, you know, exhausted as I am, things are looking super-duper UP.

And that said, I gotta scoot and tackle that channeling of Jean Toomer around here. I hope you have a really sublime Saturday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re tackling. I leave you fondly with this . I’m currently playing it nonstop in my swinging little Honda Fit all over the Hinterlands. So sit back, relax, dream, and keep swinging, gang!

Thanks for visiting! See ya!