Tag Archives: writing

Another birthday swings back around!

That’s right, I’m 58 years young today!!

For you really, really, REALLY long-time loyal readers, that makes 20 (yes, twenty) birthdays I’ve shared with you online. That’s right, I’ve been online continuously since 1998! (Boy, are my typing-fingers tired…)

I will be spending my birthday dinner tonight with the Elders of the local Latter Day Saints Church (Mormons). I’m looking forward to the discussion about Kirtland, because I have since managed to get up there and see the temple and it was quite an intense experience.  (A heck of a lot of really bad things happened to the Mormons there, in the 1830s.) Even though the temple was an amazing achievement, you can  still feel the desecration that happened there, and the energy of the atrocities.

But that’s tonight…

Today, I’ll be working on the new notes for the stage adaptation of Tell My Bones, and also doing so more research for a possible re-write of the Cleveland’s Burning TV pilot — just based on some really inspiring comments a producer in LA made about how he saw the story (not a producer who is involved in the script in any way).  I was actually extremely flattered that he had a vision for it at all. Wow.

When it’s my own birthday, I like to give gifts to others just for being super cool, and kind, and for hanging out with me since the last birthday came around, so here is my gift to you guys today!

An awesome photo!

There are only 2 women in my long and illustrious life who have really, really blown me away; who have meant the world to me; who have taught me a lot about my strengths and my weaknesses; who’ve been my muses indefinitely; who I have really, really loved. One of them is Val from Brooklyn, and the other is her:

Blare N. Bitch, from the road this past week

This is Blare N. Bitch, currently of Black Sabbitch. 

She was also a founding member of another LA-based, all-girl heavy metal band, Betty Blowtorch. (FYI, link is not G-rated)

Black Sabbitch are on the road this summer, out West. This photo was taken the other day.

I’ve known Blare since 1981, when we were both (incredibly different) musicians in downtown Manhattan. And she’s actually a year older than me. So, all you young gals out there reading this — don’t worry about getting old. You don’t have to if you don’t absolutely want to. You can just age, really awesomely, as that photo will attest.

Okay! I’m gonna get to the writing table down in my kitchen and get the birthday under way here.

I leave you with this. The trailer from a truly jaw-dropping documentary film that was made about the band, Betty Blowtorch, just before tragedy struck. I don’t know if you can find the movie online anymore, but it used to be free to watch on the Internet.

Okay, gang. have a bitchin’ day! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

 

 

 

 

The clock is ticking!!

There are only 12 days left to download for FREE all of my eBook titles that are published on Smashwords!

A ton of you (well, hundreds) have already taken full advantage of this opportunity in the last 20 days! There are only 12 days left to get over there and download for free.

If you’re new to the blog, or to my earlier career, Freak Parade and The Muse Revisited Volumes 1-3 are exceptionally explicit (award-winning!) literary erotica, often with bisexual BDSM themes and with overtones of what is now termed  “questionable consent”. These titles are not aimed at the average reader and could be considered upsetting or offensive.

However, Twilight of the Immortal is historical fiction, not literary erotica.

Here are the links to my titles on Smashwords:

Okay, thanks for visiting! Have a  wonderful weekend, wherever it takes you. See ya!

 

 

Good Things!

Yes, 42nd Street was an amazing amount of wonderful dancing feet — tap-dancing feet, no less. And tons of singing. It was really, really fun.

A couple of those songs made me a little misty-eyed for the New York City that I remember from the old days.  (No, I didn’t live there in the 1930s! I meant, when the show first came out in 1980.) But overall, it was just plain fun.

As for those boys of summer (post below), it was really heartbreaking — but in the best way. I want so much to make time stand still, but it can’t be done, gang! (Unless, of course, it’s something torturous and horrible and filled to the brim with hell — high school springs to mind! Then time does indeed stand still…)

But 2 more shows, and then they strike the set for good and go off to have lives.  The one guy in particular that I am really crazy about only has one more show before he’s done for the season. I saw him outside as I was leaving the theater last night. I had the perfect opportunity to speak to him, but all I could think of to say was, “Oh my god! Don’t leave me!! Luckily, I have a working brain filter, so I was able to just keep walking…

When I reached my car, though, I leaned against it for a while and watched him, watched all of them — the whole cast was outside. It was a beautiful, clear night; thousands of stars in the sky; only 67 lovely degrees. And I watched those beautiful young people and wondered about the flow of human beings coming together, dispersing, coming together again.  I know there is an underlying emotional order to all of it, to the flow of life. I can’t explain it in linear sentences, but I feel the emotional order in my heart. And sometimes that flow of human beings is just too beautiful for words.

When I finally got in my car, I checked my phone and discovered a text from the Mormon missionaries! They received permission to still take that trip up to Kirtland next week to see the temple with me. What great news!

Also, yesterday, I had the conference call with Peitor Angell (see post below from a couple days ago) regarding my needing help with the re-structuring of the stage adaptation of Tell My Bones.

He’s out of the country right now; on a  whole different time zone, 3 hours behind me. But he got up at 6 AM in order to find a quiet place, as well as a place where his cell phone could get reception, so that he could talk to me uninterrupted by life.

That is a true friend, isn’t it? To get up at 6 AM when you’re on vacation in another country, just to help a friend figure something out.

He gave me the most amazing, detailed advice for how I could find a better way in to the story. I could barely keep up, I was taking so many notes.

I said, “Is this a process you already do, or something? It is so detailed and so well thought out.”

He said, “No, I’m just coming up with it now. I’m trying to intuitively tap into the whole project and help bring out the artist in you.”

Well, it worked. It was staggering, really — how helpful he was. I am really just so blessed.

And so, on that note, I have to get down to the kitchen table, spread out a bunch of papers and notes and re-think my whole script.

Have a really great Thursday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re doing, gang. Keep looking for those miracles, they’re probably right in front of you. Thanks for visiting. See ya.

42nd Street, Weathervane Playhouse

 

 

 

 

The Boys of Summer

Well, tonight is finally the night, gang! I’m gonna get into my little white Honda Fit, drive the 15 miles of back roads into town to the summer stock theater that’s literally in an old red barn (well, it’s a newer old red barn designed to look like the original one from 50 years ago) to see 42nd Street!

Weathervane Playhouse

Does this mean that the song  Lullaby of Broadway will finally be out of my head? Your guess is as good as mine, gang, but the easy money is likely on “no.”

And yet… what I was listening to a lot, late last night, was Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer. I was in my 20s when his version of the song came out, and even then the song was considered “nostalgic.” Last night — obviously, 30 years later — it felt even more nostalgic.

Plus, the song makes me think of Tom Petty, since his bandmate, Mike Campbell, was one of the writers of the song. (Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that Tom Petty was one of my girlhood heroes and he died last autumn from an accidental overdose of illegal fentanyl.)

Last night was a peculiar night. I’ve been noticing lately that I am developing more & more friendships with much younger people. Like, in their late teens and early twenties, while, at the same time, colleagues and friends my own age are dying, or developing various terminal illnesses, and having things like strokes and heart attacks.

I’m going to be 58 in 12 days. I’m in perfect health. Emotionally and spiritually, I feel older than 21, but in another sense, I don’t feel older at all.

Since Easter, I had been developing a really nice relationship with two young women, 19-year-old Mormon missionaries. They stopped in every week, sometimes twice a week, and we discussed the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s life, faith, Christ, etc. These were wonderful discussions and I learned so much about Mormons, none of which I’d known before.

Next week, we were going to take a little day trip up to Kirtland to see the first temple that the Mormons built with Joseph Smith, back in 1836. We were all really excited.

Being missionaries, they really, really wanted me to join the faith, and while I think the Mormon faith is extremely positive and uplifting, more so than “regular” Christianity, I believe that chastity should be a choice, not something that’s enforced. Plus, most importantly, I have my own ministry to consider.

But that aside, we all got along so well and then yesterday, 30 minutes before they were due to come over for a visit, they texted me to say that they had both been transferred to another district, and it was effective immediately.

That happens with Mormon missionaries, but I was kind of devastated by the news.  They said, “we want you to know you changed our lives so much.” And I told them they had done the same for me.

It’s so bittersweet, knowing that I have to watch them go off into the world, have their lives, find their own meanings, and that I’ll likely never see them again.

I tried to cheer myself by thinking about the show that I would be seeing tonight, and how excited I was to not only go to the theater, but to see this particular company that has so many wonderful young performers, including a couple of young men who have really moved me, and one who has really just stolen my heart.

But then it occurred to me that the summer season was half-over! And all these wonderful performers will soon be going back to college, or to New York City, to have their lives, find their meanings and their destinies, and chances are I won’t see them again, either.

I know that’s how it’s supposed to be with young, driven people. In fact, it concerns me that so many young people simply keep living at home nowadays, almost indefinitely.  Where is the drive, where are the goals, the spirit? I know things are expensive, but I went to New York City practically flat broke, to be a singer, when I was 20 years old.  Nothing on Earth could stop me. By the time I was 21, I was singing professionally in folk clubs in Greenwich Village.  And so many people my age were in the city, pursuing their dreams, too.

So, obviously, I believe that young people with dreams should go off and do stuff — pursue their dreams; whether it’s on Broadway, or in a House of God.

But last night, it felt so keenly bittersweet. I’m really excited to see the show tonight but I know the show will be over in a heartbeat, and live theater never repeats itself.  And then, in another heartbeat, the next show will happen, and then the next, and then the summer season will be over, and all those beautiful boys of summer — straight, gay, a little of both — with their beautiful voices, and amazing dancing, will be gone.

And autumn will come.

I have my own stuff I need to do –God knows –and I have to go back to New York City, and probably out to L.A. at least once. So it’s not like my own time stands still. But, wow, young people — their energy, their dreams, all the good things that are waiting up the road for them if they can stay focused —  there is simply nothing like that. I am really going to miss all of them.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Smashwords Summer eBook Sale Begins Today

As promised!

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

Here are the links to my titles on Smashwords:

Enjoy, gang! Have a terrific Sunday, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

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!