Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!!! (2018)

Here's a treat -- a photo from my most recent bookstore visit... 
Where I met the stars of KidTime StoryTime!!! 

Have fun tonight, kiddos! Get lots of candy, but don't forget to brush your teeth. 
(Otherwise you might lose them.)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Resolution Check-In: Fall Edition

As you may have noticed, this blog has temporarily turned into a place where I've been sharing my thoughts (and links) about plays and musicals. (This is for the benefit of my English class, Introduction to Drama.)

Another reason I haven't been blogging about my creative endeavors is that I have been VERY BUSY -- which for the most part has been a grand thing... but it does mean that fun little projects (like this blog which about eleven people read on a regular basis) must fall to the wayside. 

I am hopefully to provide an update about all this wonderful business... but first, allow my to check-in on my New Year's Resolutions, a task I have been avoiding because I am doing such a shabby job at completing most of them. 

Here we go... 

1) Finish Writing a New Novel

Is a Chapter Book a novel? I am going to give myself a break here and say yes. During the lat part of the summer, I finished a book about bug friends. It's kinda cute, and hopefully very funny. My agent has given me notes -- now I just need to find the time to finish the second draft!


2) Sell a New Picture Book

YES!!! This is a big accomplishment because, for me at least, writing a salable picture book is never easy. I will reveal more details about this as soon as I can... but I can say that I signed the contract over a month ago, and have already received part of my advance. Woo-hoo! I can also tell you that this most recent sale is a sequel to one of my previously published works -- so that's pretty awesome!


3) Write / Sell New Play

I have written a new one-act comedy about an escape room. My editor at Eldridge likes it, but suggested several changes. Today I revised it and resubmitted. Fingers crossed.


4) Complete 200 Days of Writing

I believe I am now up to 60 days. Sad and pathetic.

ACHIEVEMENT: 30% Complete. There are only 64 days left in this year, so I have officially failed this goal. Wah!!!

5) Participate in 10 Book Events

I have had a chance to do a few more of these... In August I promoted "Papa Bear's Page Fright" at the Open Book in Canyon Country. In September I was a featured reader at the Orange County Book Festival. Then this October, I had a book signing at Burbank's Barnes and Noble. I was also an honored guest at the Ventura County Assistance League's Authors Luncheon. I visited Hamilton Elementary last Friday, and in a couple hours I will be making an appearance at Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, California.  I just need one more event to reach my goal!

ACHIEVEMENT: 90% Complete

6) Complete 100 five minute work-out sessions

Yes! I have exceeded this goal (surprisingly). I have well over 100 work out days registered... although I'm still not making it enough of a habit. Really need to try doing this at least five times a wekk, instead of two or three times a week (as has been the case the last month or so).


7) Practice Drawing / Coloring for 100 Hours

Very little progress made in this category. Why don't I make more time for this one???

ACHIEVEMENT: 20% Complete

8) Develop a Stronger Marketing Platform

Uh... not yet... Hee-hee... I'm trying, but mainly spinning my wheels. I do have some cute corgi pics on my Instagram account.


9) Create a Portfolio with at least 12 awesome photos

Hmm... There's a decent chance that there's at least 12 calendar worthy photos in my phone... But I haven't really taken the time to curate anything yet.


10) Learn the whole melody of Ashokan Farewell. 

This is the most ignored of all my resolutions. I think I have touched our piano three times this year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Susan Glaspell's Trifles


The Origin of "Trifles"

"Trifles" is currently Glaspell's most popular play. Like other works of early feminist writing, it was rediscovered and embraced by the academic community. One of the reasons for this short play's enduring success is that it is not only an insightful commentary on the different perceptions of each gender, but it's also a compelling crime drama that leaves audiences discussing what happened and whether or not the characters acted unjustly.
While working as a journalist for the Des Moines Daily News, Susan Glaspell covered the arrest and trial of Margaret Hossack who was accused of murdering her husband. According to a summary by True Crime: An American Anthology:
"Sometime around midnight on December 1, 1900 John Hossack, a well-to-do, 59-year-old Iowa farmer, was attacked in bed by an axe wielding assailant who literally beat out his brains as he slept. His wife became the prime suspect after neighbors testified to her long-simmering hatred of her abusive spouse."
The Hossack case, much like the fictionalized case of Mrs. Wright in "Trifles," became a hotbed of debate. Many people sympathized with her, seeing her as a victim in an abusive relationship. Others doubted her claims of abuse, perhaps focusing on the fact that she never confessed, always claiming that an unknown intruder was responsible for the murder.
True Crime: An American Anthology explains that Mrs. Hossack was found guilty, but a year later her conviction was overturned. The second trail resulted in a hung jury and she was set free.

Read the rest of my Susan Glaspell article at ThoughtCo... 

Monday, October 22, 2018

The First Half of One of My Favorite Plays...

I'm so glad the National Theater filmed their production of Man and Superman, starring the amazing Ralph Fiennes. I think I'll be ordering the DVD very soon in order to watch the whole show! Can't wait to see what they do with the "Don Juan in Hell" sequence.

There's also a cool interview with Mr. Fiennes regarding the production...

Here's a bit more on the National theater's production, in particular the curious case of the seldom performed Act Three...

Friday, October 19, 2018

Author's Luncheon Celebration - October 20th

Tomorrow I will be presenting at the Author's Luncheon Celebration. a wonderful fundraising event put on by the Assistance League of Ventura County.

I'm very excited! This is my second time as a featured guest. The first was back in 2011 when my very first picture book was released.

You can find out more about the event here...  

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bootleg Broadway Musicals, Anyone?

I go back and forth on the ethics of Youtube videos which are the product of some sneaky theater patron who surreptitiously films the entire show on their phone. That's a very naughty and obnoxious thing to do.

At the same time, once a Broadway show has come and gone, it is -- in a way -- lost to the ages. Therefore, I appreciate being able to watch those very Youtube videos that are morally questionable.

Obviously, the better course of action would be to make certain every Broadway production is professionally filmed (most are, I believe) and then, more importantly, give viewers the chance to watch them via a streaming service.

This might be sounding like an advertisement for Broadway HD -- a cool streaming service that let's you watch lots of plays and musicals, all professionally recorded. But it's not. Hopefully Broadway HD will expand in the very near future. Right now, they really don't have that many musicals from which to choose.

So, in the meantime, I'm setting my ethical quandries aside so that i can watch the Original Cast of The Drowsy Chaperone in all of its crappily filmed glory.

Here's a Tumblr page that has organized a whole lotta links to Broadway's best musicals... 

Monday, October 8, 2018

"My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

KidTime StoryTime Presents: There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor

Here's an adorable retelling of my Dino Book -- complete with a couple of zany puppets.

Thanks, KidTme!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Female Dramatists in the Early Days of European Theater

Meet Hrotsvitha... 

What's cool about her? She is the first person since Ancient Rome to bring theatrical literature back to life in Europe. She was a nun who lived in a 10th century commune of women, thus allowing her time and independence to pursue her own educational goals and creative pursuits -- so long as they were an extension of her faith. Many of the plays she wrote were a Catholic response to the works of Roman playwright Terence. She retold the stories of the saints, and created female characters of strength and intelligence.

Lady Mary Wroth... 

She wrote "household" or "closet" plays, dramatic works not necessarily intended to be performed on a stage... perhaps not expected to be performed at all. However, a British theater company has recently launched a production of her play, Love's Victory. (Written in the early 1600s). 

She also wrote plays and a work of fiction (that may or may not have been based upon real experiences) called Urania. One critic who hated her book called her: "hermaphrodite" and a "monster" --- I don't know if this is much better, but a fan of hers, Ben Jonson, said that her work made him not only a better poet but a better lover! 

Aphra Behn AKA Astrea

Her origins are shrouded in mystery and rumors... one of my favorite being that she traveled to a South American colony to serve as a spy, hired by Charles II. (She did perform spy duties in the Netherlands... and records indicate that the king failed to pay for her service.)

Since the life of a spy didn't pan out, and since her husband passed away, she was forced to make end's meet by writing for the stage.

Here's an energetic synopsis of one of her most successful plays: The Rover. 

During the Restoration, female playwrights -- such as Mary Pix -- became less of a rarity. 

This might have been because theater goers at the time cared more about the performances and less about the playwrights -- in fact, playwrights often went unaccredited (though not unpaid).

Susanna Centlivre

She began her theatrical career as an actress, often playing "breeches roles." According to biographers, she left home (due to her abusive step mother) at the age of fifteen. Shen was married at age sixteen, and became a widow at age seventeen. Like others before her, she turned to playwriting in order to gain financial independence. Her comedy, The Busy Body is one of her more oft performed plays, still scene on the contemporary stage. 


What about the actresses? There's a nice overview of female actors in the early days of Restoration theater and beyond... Check out this link from the National Portrait Gallery.

You may also want to learn about the colorful life of actress Nell Gwyn -- an informative overview can be found within the devil's Encyclopedia -- AKA Wikipedia.