Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Incredible Month of...not Writing

We had shows; we worked on lines and prepped for that.
We had Santa gigs and ran around for those.
I had writer's group for a couple of times during December. I'm on my way to winning the rejection letter contest again.
And we have Christmas! So I baked cookies, fudge, banana bread, cardamom bread...and more cookies, more banana bread, more cardamom bread!
We wrapped gifts, opened gifts, played with gifts, traveled a bit, watched movies. It's been a busy and wonderful December.

(So this is a rather bland entry. But that's what we did and it's been over 20 days since I last posted so this is to get me started again. Almost time for the reality to set in...but not yet. :) )

Thursday, December 3, 2009

An Incredible Month of Writing

Participating in National Novel Writing Month was great. I had the excuse I needed, one that everyone honored, to be able to spend a couple of hours a day just writing. I managed to chunk out the rough draft of a 50k word novel. Actually, I managed to get the 50, 000 words written which was the goal but the novel didn't get completed but that's okay. I'll just complete it this month...except this is the end of the first week after NaNoWriMo and I've added only 1,400 words more to the novel and before I was doing 2500 words 5 days per week. That's sad. I wonder if I can get myself to wake up early just to be able to write. I did it for the month of November. Surely, I can do it again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Their Eyes Light Up for Santa

Chris has already played Santa twice this month (I know, crazy, right? It's not even after Thanksgiving) and it's fun to look around at the children's faces as they watch him go by or when he stops to talk to them. One little boy brought Santa a gift...which left his sister crying because it was hers. But it's okay, Santa was able to return the gift without hurting the little boy's feelings.

Actually, I'm not talking about the children's eyes. As I stand in the background watching who sits on Santa's lap to get a picture, it's the adults--and the teens--that amaze me. There are many who want a picture with Santa, too. One massage therapist and her whole staff got a picture with Santa. They loved it! There were the two sisters (teen and young adult). And there was a grandma, too.

There are some adults who still believe in the magic of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Now I've Got to DO Something

After eight days of writing 2500 words a day, I'm ready to launch off the chair and DO something. I've already gotten in my word count for the day. I managed to get some work done for Cwerks; there's two more things that really ought to be done. But now it's time to stand up and move. I could cook something with Styx blaring from the stereo. I could declutter an area--I love the feel of tossing things. I wonder if the rug could use another steam cleaning. Or clean the garage, now that's dirty, physical labor. Yay, choices. I'll start Styx and then decide... but right now, I'm outta here!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


As of yesterday morning, I was on target with my writing. Today, there's a lot of little things I'm doing--and they have to be done, no more procrastinating. It may mean a late night writing session to keep me on target with today's word count. So far, I'm up to 15, 074 out of 50k. I'm thrilled to be that far along.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Month of Furiously Writing-Day 2

So far I'm just ahead of schedule. I'm up to 5334 words. Yay!

National Novel Writing Month

This month is NaNoWriMo and I'm taking the challenge. (
I figured out that I need 2500 words/day for 5 days a week for 4 weeks to make my goal of 50, 000 words. Yesterday, I managed to write just over 2500 words. It came to just over 9 pages. And now it's time to get back in there and go, Go, GO!
And here's my opening (please understand I'm writing furiously; names and awkward sentences are subject to change):
"It took a lot of effort on Glorferrel's part to make sure no one knew she was a coward. Being a girl only made it that much more difficult. So she hit him again."
How 'bout that? It starts with violence...maybe that's not so good. Oh, well. Much is bound to happen by the end of November.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just looking for...

It happened again! The first time we performed Jack and the Beanstalk, a little girl came up after the show wanting to look behind the curtain to find the stove Jack hid in. Yesterday, a boy came up wanting to see who played the giant. Chris (dh) plays both Jack and the giant. What is that term? Suspension of disbelief? Children are so willing to play along. And they seem to have so much more fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventure in Adding Colors

It's hard enough for me to sketch--I'll erase areas a million times before I leave a sketch alone. Adding colors takes all the courage I can muster and then some. I'm always worried I'm going to ruin something. But I did it! I added color to a few drawings:

The scans don't look as good as the originals (I don't think) and the giraffe picture is not fully colored but there they are.
Phew, I'm worn out. My courage is drained for the night.

The Dog Gets Involved

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of performing at a private residence for the owners and a few of their friends. They have animals...and it was hard to stay in character and not watch the critters. One of the cats started playing with a straw hat when we set it out. It's the cheap Hawaii-type hat so the cat was chewing on the straw that sticks out. Then the poor young Doberman was whining to be let out of the bedroom when there was a party going on. The obedient dog was told to lie down on the floor. Several of my husband's lines are "Oh, come on, Maggie. It'll be fun." trying to convince his assistant (me) to lead the group in a song or entertain everyone with a hula. That well trained Doberman came when Chris called. What else does "come" mean, right? So halfway through the show, Maggie is ripping into Jake (played by my husband) and the dog is starting to get a little hyper, so I'm toning it down slightly. Then Jake is supposed to collapse because someone poisoned the pineapple (This is one of our murder mysteries, titled "Pigs, Pineapple and Poison." Jake's character is so obnoxious, some audiences cheer when he keels over). Luckily, Chris had the presence of mind to collapse, not on the floor as per usual, but on a chair, realizing that on the floor, the dog might consider him fair game. Then as Maggie, I'm supposed to scream. I toned that down, too.

We did make it through the play without coming out of character until the end then laughed with everyone else about the animals. We managed to survive feline attacks and trying to be rescued by a Doberman.

(We happen to like animals. Even as I type this, Big Oh is curled up between my arms, snoozing. If there are typos, blame Big Oh.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writing & writing & writing

A month or more ago, I wrote myself another schedule* which I do on a regular basis, refining the list to fit the time available. On this schedule, I included my writing time. All the writing conferences I've been to has included at least one speaker saying, "You have to put your butt in the chair and just write." Although I've also heard "you must write everyday" that hasn't quite worked out. With my new schedule, I have "writing and submitting" on my Tuesday, Thursday time slot. It's been working out pretty good actually. I won the Rejected Letter Contest for this term in my critique group. On MWF, I work on editing my completed theater book. So I'm kind of writing everyday, except sometimes my schedule goes unheeded out of other pressing needs--money-earning work, class preparations, etc.. Well, thinking about it, I realized I've been writing a lot, and not just for story telling; special letters (not just flash emails) is also writing. I've managed to write:
  • Four Elvy (character's name) stories.
  • Weekly letters to my missionary son for the past 10 months or so.
  • Non-fiction article about my cats.
  • Non-fiction article about reverence.
  • Outline for a new script for children to perform.
  • Blogging (okay, I noticed that I've missed a few weeks of adding a new entry; I've been writing stories).
How exciting! I'm actually writing. (Sometimes I have to point little wins out to myself because I often see where I'd like to be compared to where I am and think I'm making no progress.)

*Scheduling: I happen to like lists and schedules. It keeps me focused. Given the time, I may spend hours dinking around and not getting anything done. Then comes the busy schedule all of a sudden (such as money-earning work or needing to fix the roof) and I have no time to enjoy creative pursuits--writing, drawing, sewing, crafts, playing Catan--or no time to actually get the house clean or de-cluttered. So many wonderful things to do in this life. A schedule helps me remember what I really want to do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Believeable Hen

We have a hen that lays golden eggs in our play Jack and the Beanstalk. The hen is played by an audience member. Our most recent chicken was played by a young girl and it didn't dawn on me until after the show the little touch of realism that the girl added. She came up on stage when the Giant's Wife (me) called her up. Then she sat down on her knees next to the Giant (my husband). When the Giant and Wife left the room, the hen was standing next to the table where Jack (husband) found her and took her home. The little girl followed Jack to the beanstalk and climbed down it with him. Jack's Mom (me, again) entered and saw Jack and the chicken, who was now back on her knees, sitting on the stage. I wondered for just a moment why she kept sitting on the stage. We've had children be animals before and they either drop to all fours (we usually have 4 + legged animals) or they remain standing. My question was answered when Jack said"Lay." The hen handed him a golden egg. She was a LAYING HEN! Of course! The little girl was just doing what hens do when they lay eggs. I mean, really, what hen do you know that lays an egg standing up?

Monday, September 14, 2009


I'm still practicing drawing and adding color. I don't know when I'll call myself an artist; it may be a long while. In the meantime, I ended up with a drawing I liked! I took a picture with my camera to upload this so it looks a bit...interesting. I didn't actually color in a light source; it's just the flash bouncing off the white paper. But I was pleased with the way the original came out. (Yay!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Between

September is an in-between month. Summer gigs are done and Fall/Winter classes and performances are not quite rolling. But In Between doesn't mean not busy. It's time for more marketing, more planning, more business goal setting, and putting it all into action. It's also time to sign the corporate tax return, clean the file cabinets and make sure the Santa suit is clean. I love theater but the theater business has to be worked as a business. *Sigh*

Friday, September 4, 2009

Junior Theatre

I have the opportunity to create a junior theater. Oh, I hope the sponsoring organization will see it as a valuable piece to what they do, and are willing to put in the initial money to make it an ongoing activity!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Leaping Over Did-I's

I managed to submit two stories to two publishers this week.

Submitting articles is difficult. As I'm sealing the envelope the "Did-I's" whisper in my ear*: Did I write the cover letter right...was it too [insert word here: silly, stupid, dull, wordy, short]? Did I correct all grammatical errors in the manuscript and in the cover letter? Did I send it to the exact right editor at the exact right publishing house at the exact right time? Did I take enough time to research publishers? Did I [insert lots more questions here]?

I sometimes have to leap over the Did-I's so I'll actually submit manuscripts. Not that I want to slop through the process but I could be writing and revising forever without making efforts towards actually submitting. I've heard it said this way: The paralysis of analysis, meaning we analyze something so much, we don't DO anything. We freeze up. So this week, I unfroze and leaped. Which is kind of funny because I had printed out the manuscripts last week but kept them on my desk, paralyzed by the Did-I's and Should-I's (Should-I's go along with the Did-I's: Should I send it to this one or that one? Should I be funny but professional in my cover letter? Should I have my writer's group critique it one more time?) Well, at least I did leap even if it was a week later.

*Did-I's are similar to Shel Silverstein's "The What-ifs" - both can be a real nuisance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kids Who Try

It is so nice to work with kids who try.

I finished teaching a four-day class on July 30th. There were only 7 kids in the group. One would think that would be easy. There was ONE kid in there who made the whole class a drain on my energy. I try to work with kids who aren't "getting it" or who seem to be holding back. If they seem to have a bad attitude, I first assume that it may stem from being fearful or uncomfortable with what we're doing, so I try to help.
I want to help them be successful. But if a bad attitude continues with no effort on the child's part, I can't help--no effort on my part will make a difference, not until the child tries.

Monday, I started teaching another group of kids for the four-day run. What a delight! They all TRY. There is one student who is rather shy but she still tries. It may be beyond her comfort zone but she still tries. Sometimes the activity is difficult for her but she still tries. Another student in there is older than the rest. The class for her age got canceled so she opted to go with the younger kids. She still tries. Sometimes she likes to cop an attitude but when I have her get up and moving she still tries. And because they all try, they're actually doing well in the class and we're having fun.

I would rather have kids who try than kids who have the ability but don't put out any effort.

My husband teaches Spanish at a community college. His students are older but they're like my little guys--some try and some just don't. Hm. I wonder which ones are pleasant to be around.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A New Script is Hatching

After directing 30 kids in Three-3-III (a script I wrote), I made a note to self for next year's play which was "KISS" = "Keep It Short & Simple" (or "Keep It Simple, Stupid" according to some, but I can't go around calling myself "stupid" all the time; I might start to believe it. Anyway...). I was thinking I had made things short and simple with Three-3-III. I need shorter and simpler (would that be KISSER?) So I started writing the new script in my head, getting some characters, figuring out a storyline--I even wrote one song, too bad I didn't record it when I had the tune in my head. I'll try to remember it later...I'm lying. I'll never remember so I'll make up a new soon as I find the piece of paper with the words on it. Maybe I should just wait until the deadline nears, then I'm sure to write and record everything that needs writing and recording.

Well, then. I guess I'll say the script is in incubation instead.

(it's July 31 for another few minutes. I thought I'd write while it was still July--so I got in two posts. Yay.)

Balloon Twisting-the Attention Getter

I taught a few clowning skills to a group of 7-10 year olds this week and one of those skills was balloon twisting. We practiced almost every day. The kids twisted swords first (something that can be very simple), followed by simple animals. They made hats. They tried making curly-cues and 2-balloon hats and animals. We twisted--and popped--a lot of balloons. Today they had a little performance for family and friends. People were so impressed that the kids were making balloon animals, swords, and hats--and these were the adults.

Balloon twisting is rather fun. Today, I took my twisting supplies and a book of more difficult twists with me to a friend's house to practice while the kids (including teens) celebrated one girl's birthday. Kids can hear the pump a mile away. I made a hat for the birthday girl, and suddenly a 10 year old boy wanted something too. He was so excited. But he wasn't the only one. A big kid (translation: teenage boy) wondered if I could make him a sword (not unusual). Another girl wanted a hat. I made a couple of fishing poles with fish attached. I didn't get a chance to practice the more difficult twists in my book. I'll have to do that in my living room with the doors locked, the curtains drawn and a "do not disturb" sign on the front door!

Monday, July 27, 2009

What an Exhausting Week!

CET (Children's Educational Theatre) where I work for 5 weeks in the summer just ended Saturday. The mornings were classes, the afternoons were rehearsals (I did a cameo in the musical) and evenings were performances of the different shows that CET produces in those five weeks. Friday night was strike of the musical, Saturday morning was evaluation and further clean up, Saturday night was the fine arts concert and strike after that. Gadzooks! That's a lot of shows and a lot of clean up. FYI: the 30 children I directed did great. They even had the presence of mind to ignore (or catch) the tri-walled pillars on wheels that started moving when the wind came up (the performance was outdoors).

Now onto this busy week of teaching clowning skills at the children's museum and theater
skills for Educational Enrichment.

There has got to be a time to collapse, I just can't find space for it on the calendar.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Letting Off Steam

(I'm directing a show with 30 children, ages 8-10. It opens in less than a week. I'm just a bit exhausted.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Picture Book Story!

I've heard for several years now the picture book market is soft. So I really haven't written a lot of PB stories, though that's my favorite. After a brief discussion with a couple of writer friends, I realized we were writing stories and articles that seemed more likely to get published, not because we were enjoying what we were writing.That seems counterproductive. Why write if you're not loving it? And if you're not loving what you're writing it will show through.

So I wrote a picture book story today, 388 words. It was so much fun!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Snowball Fight in Mime

Snowball fights can be rough, even in mime, especially if you're the instructor of 25 kids. Snowballs in mime NEVER miss their target which is usually the face. Snowballs in mime can NEVER be dodged. If you are the instructor, do not walk across the room during the snowball fight and act as if you're above the mayhem, even if you're just trying to move something off the floor so no snowballer will slip on it. You've actually become The Moving Target and most of the children will want to hit you with a snowball. Do not react by dropping them to the floor and rubbing mime snow in their faces; that's as good as a thrown gauntlet to a knight--they will now want to see if they can take you down. Do not allow your teenaged Teacher's Assistant to yell out, "Get [Your Name inserted here]!" And never, NEVER allow them to take you down--be brave, be tough, even though they outnumber you. Instead, change the approach. Yell, "Let's make snow angels," and drop to the floor. Then they will all lie down on the floor and the snow flinging stops. The one advantage to a mime snowball fight is you don't get cold...quite the opposite, so open a window and turn on the fan before you start.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Movie we were in--Uncle Bingo

A couple years back, Chris, Ian, Hannah and I were in an independent
film--no pay but it was interesting. Chuck Magee of Wounded Rat Productions
recently posted a trailer on You Tube:

On the running time, I'm at about :07, Ian (the mime) is about 1:48 and
2:07, Chris is at about 2:03-2:04. Hannah isn't in the trailer.
Next week we get to go watch the whole movie (just a private screening for
the cast).
What a riot!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Other Members of My Writer's Group

It is a delight to critique (critique, not criticize--in the hopes that the work being critiqued will improve and have a better chance of getting published) the work of my writer group friends. I am thrilled when one of them either finishes a major project or actually gets published. Three out of four of us have been published and gotten money for it. I have a hard time counting mine (except I loved the check part) because the two manuscripts I sent out were short and one of them, although paid for, hasn't yet been seen in print.

G has finished numerous middle grade and YA novels. And every other month, he has a great idea for another one--no, no, he doesn't just have the idea, he writes the first few chapters. He hasn't been published yet but I'm anxious to have him be "discovered." I wish an editor would hurry up and do that. I have to have his book before I can get an autograph.

C writes interesting travel articles. Yes, compared to the dry, uninteresting travel articles. Every time he brings in one for us to critique--that would be every time we have "group"--I want to go where he's writing about. Now and then the travel article doesn't have enough personality so he rewrites it and brings it back as unique as he is. He has been featured in an email newsletter for MONTHS now. I wonder if it's been a year yet.

A illustrates and writes. It's marvelous. I do have A's autograph on a magazine cover she did and on a "comic book" she created for a non-profit. But the chapters she brings in for a couple of different novels she's working on make great reading. The characters are so distinct and fun to read about.

And then there's me... I really shouldn't be so selfish. I'm learning so much by critiquing their work but I'm not bringing enough in for them to practice critiquing mine. A presenter at a writer's conference said that you should join a writer's group to critique work rather than have work critiqued because you learn more that way. I better exhibit a bit more self-discipline and make myself write gobs of material for the sake of the group. I suppose that means getting up early or not watching as many movies...or perhaps I could just think and type faster. Ooo. I'll do that!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Best Vacation

I'm exhausted from teaching mime classes, auditioning kids and beginning a new rehearsal period. It's times like these that I think of the best vacation we ever had.

Our plan was to spend Christmas break with my husband's folks. We told everyone. But about three days before we were to leave, one or more of the kids got sick, so we couldn't go. We neglected to let anyone know that we weren't going. We spent two weeks at home with few phone calls and visitors. It was quiet and slow and wonderful.

Auditions are Tough

I not a good auditioner. I know I can do a marvelous job for a director once cast but it's getting the part in the first place that I have a hard time with.

More difficult still is being the director doing the casting. Especially if it's kids auditioning. There's always something slightly unique about each kid's audition. It would be such a delight to work with each kid in a spectacular role. But there aren't enough spectacular parts to go around. As a director, I can only hope the kids who are cast will make the best of their parts whether or not it's ones they wanted.

Directors tend to quote Alexander Pope, "Act well your part; there all the honor lies," or Stanislavsky's "There are no small parts, only small actors," in trying to encourage actors--especially kids and youth--to feel good about a small part they ended up with. But disappointment is disappointment and it doesn't go away with a good quote. I always do the best I can for any role I'm cast in but I might be disappointed for a day or so if I didn't get the part I hoped for. So I feel disappointed and then it goes away and I enjoy the rest of the process. That's life in general, isn't it?

Monday, June 22, 2009


That's the title of my new script which will be performed on July 21 and 22. I had fun creating it. There are three storylines from tales of three: The Three Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and the Three Bears. I couldn't resist so the cast and characters are in multiples of three. There are 6 sign carriers, 3 reporters, 3 wolves with the three pigs, along with three sellers of building material (straw, stick, brick), 2 trolls with the billy goats, and three girls--Goldilocks, Curlilocks and Purplelocks. The songs in it are called Three is a Magical Number, Haggle-Haggle-Bargain, New Story New Story (lyrics by me; music by a talented friend), Three is a Magical Number Reprise. Yay! That goal was reached. (It helped that there was a deadline for writing it and I am being paid royalties for it).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Week that Went By

My daughter went to church girls' camp. My husband went as a leader. I had the house to myself from Tuesday afternoon to Saturday morning. One would think that would be a great opportunity for serious writing concentration. Nope. The week went by busier than usual...yes, busier. Or at least it felt that way. I have come to the conclusion there is no perfect time to concentrate on anything. I just have to make the time to do what I want to do; or use the time I do have whether or not it's a good time to concentrate. I'll have to keep a time journal for a few days and evaluate my spenditure of that precious commodity.

"But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them..." Jim Croce "Time in a Bottle" (I wish it was "Thyme in a Bottle;" I have some growing in my garden)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Girl in the First Row

Today we performed "Paul Bunyan" for a small group. The family in the first row come to these shows on a regular basis. Today it was the young lady's birthday. She was selected as Babe the Blue Ox. I hope she had a great birthday with us, and for the rest of the day!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Files

Usually I have a LOT going on (you know, life). Yesterday was different for some reason. I hit the afternoon and sat at my desk thinking "what's next on my list?" I didn't have anything with a drop-dead deadline, but I had to do something. So, I pulled up my files of writing projects. Just my current list of projects is long, not to mention my to-be-written file full of ideas. Those are just the ones on my computer. There's a file folder on my desk that is positively FAT with writing ideas. Everything was almost overwhelming to look at. In my Stories file in my computer, I have one file for each of my projects (to hold all the different versions and outlines). A while back, I numbered the top four books I wanted to work on. I choose to work on Project #3. I looked at the date of the last time I worked on it...OVER A YEAR AGO! I had to read all 50 pages to figure out where I was. That's just embarrassing. Maybe it's time to be more disciplined and get up at 5 a.m. so I can have a couple of hours of uninterrupted time for writing. (HAHAHAHA. I knew I couldn't say that with a straight face!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rejection Letters on the Horizon

After researching children magazine publishers for an hour or two, I submitted two of my stories to two different magazines. So that means in about three months I should be getting rejection letters in the mail...or a wonderful surprise.

Now it may seem I'm being pessimistic about my chances of getting a story published. No, I don't think so. I believe my stories are pretty good, many times they're better than things I've read. But the chances of my story hitting the exact right editor at the exact right time are slim. There are numerous people submitting stories. But because my stories are well-written, because I act professional (I type up my pages on plain paper, double-spaced; I don't pour perfume on them or send a box of chocolates with them just to be noticed, for example), and because I keep on editing my work and submitting it, I believe that eventually I will be published multiple times. What a paradox, eh, believing my chances are slim but believing I'm still going to be published? Well, I just have to keep submitting (and writing and editing and researching to whom to submit).

My optimism shows in the fact that I am still submitting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Theater Activity #2: Answer with a Question

This is a fun concentration game for two...maybe a killer concentration game (but if you get good at it, it's fun to watch friends get flustered):

A asks B a question.B answers with a question. And on it goes. No hesitating, no repeating a question over and over (e.g. "why?" "why?"), no changing the subject, no statements, or partial statements (e.g. "No. Did you?").

A: Do you play soccer?
B: Do I look like a soccer player?
A: What does a soccer player look like?
B: I don't know.Why? [BUZZ-statement]

B's turn to go first:
B: Is your hair naturally brown?
A: Can't you see my hair is red?
B: Why do you think your hair is red?
A: Are your eyes blue? [BUZZ-change of subject]

Now they're both concentrating hard:
A: What's your favorite food?
B: Are you familiar with Thai food?
A: Is that your favorite food?
B: Do you think it's my favorite food?
A: Why would you mention it if it weren't?
B: Did you know there are 10 Thai restaurants in town?
A: Are there any in my area?
B: Where do you live?
A: Haven't you been to my house?
B: Who would know better than you?
And if they go a little faster, it gets harder.

So practice awhile, then challenge me to a game...
Do you think you can beat me? :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Two posts ago, I was thinking how good it is NOT to be attached to the computer and do outdoor work and house work. I've changed my mind. We had another Saturday free and I decided it was time to attack the blackberries again. It was hot outside. I used the electric hedge trimmer. I needed an army of goats. I managed to inflict minor damage to the blackberry bush and I burned the dried out stems. Which made the hot day hotter.

Then I headed indoors & made myself re-caulk the tub like I've been telling myself to do for ages. "It'll just be a quick clean up and a quick caulking--no big deal" I told myself. I lied. That took a few hours of scrubbing the tub and applying the caulk.

Basically, my arms were rattled by the hedge trimmer, my hands were clinched while raking the blackberry stems, my back was constantly bending and unbending as I picked up those stems and caulked the tub. All this, on top of a 3 mile hike yesterday.

I hurt. I want to go back to sitting in front of the computer most of the day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scare Yourself

***I once took a 2-week intensive course at the Goldston and Johnson School for Mimes in Ohio. Class time was 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. Everyday. Ouch.
***I remember the first time I volunteered to do street mime. I acted brave because I thought everyone else was brave but me.
***My first writer's conference was a three day retreat and I signed up for a critique and open mic. I was trembling.
***I volunteered to write a musical even though I didn't have musical training.
***I knocked out walls to create bookshelves. The first hole was the hardest to make.

I scare myself with what I think I can do. Both characters of Nemo and Marlin, from Finding Nemo, live in my brain. The Marlin side is always telling me, "you think you can do these things and you just can't." The Nemo side is always saying, "but I can do this." (Then there's the Dory part of my brain, but we won't go there.) BUT...

Sometimes you have to scare yourself to find out what you can really do.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Put Your Hands Down and Walk Away From the Computer

There is something wonderful about having a Saturday free and using it to cook, clean and weed. We made bread, baked chicken, lasagna, and apple pie-lets. We took out the garbage, ran the dishwasher three times, mowed the lawn, weeded around the herbs, mowed some of the field, torched the burn pile, mailed letters, got gas, and set up the card table in the field near the burn pile so we could play a game while we watched the embers die. We poured water on the ashes, took care of the dogs for the night, got cleaned up, ate lasagna, and watched a movie. We went to bed tired and sore...and very satisfied with our accomplishments.

It was a relief from write something, edit something, submit something; network, market and prep something for performances or teaching. Create a flier. Create dialogue. Memorize. Brainstorm for something to write.

I hope the brief break from the usual will help the creative juices to flow freely. I hope I sharpened the saw and filled the well. (Oh,dear. Those were cliches. The creative juices may not be flowing as freely as I thought. I'll just have to take another break tomorrow.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rejection Letter

I got another rejection letter for a story I submitted. I just might win my writer's group rejection letter contest this time around.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Being a Mime Wasn't On My To-Do List

I didn't learn mime until I was 15. I loved it. Actually practiced it at home. Even then it wasn't what I was planning as a career.

To sum up: When I was little, I wasn't thinking of being a writer, actor or mime. I wasn't planning on being a cop, firefighter, astronaut or secretary either. I wasn't even planning how many children I wanted. I played!...and did my chores and homework.

How on earth do little children plan their grown-up careers? Most seniors in high-school haven't a clue. All those actors and writers (and mimes?) who claim that they knew that's what they wanted to be when they were five--that's hard to believe. Well, I can imagine the actors saying that because they were probably already acting at that age (those pushy stage moms...joking). Perhaps I can even imagine the writers at five, setting their stuffed animals around their beds and reading them a freshly crayoned story. Good grief! I'm years behind all those driven 5-year-olds.

I do have to be grateful for living in a country that didn't decide for me, though. I love choices! And opportunities! And changing my mind!

And playing.

High School Roles (or, I Never Thought of Being an Actor, Either)

In high school, I was in three plays. I was Helen (chorus) in Bye-Bye, Birdie; I played the Mother in Mother of Jack the Ripper; I was wife of Creon (no lines) in Anouilh's Antigone. I think that was it. I got involved in theater towards the end of my junior year. I was busy taking classes that were "recommended for the college-bound student." When I hit my senior year, I didn't have any more "college-bound" requirements. That's when I took creative writing, choir and drama classes.

Just like with writing, I wasn't thinking of being an actress at age 9. I was busy playing. I did a
lot of make-believe games but that's not the same as wanting to be an actress. One recurring storyline for our make-believe was Charger the Bull. He was a pet of whatever-the-girl's-name was; they had adventures. Another recurring storyline was the boyfriend make-believe. I would try to claim Elvis Presley, Bobbie Sherman (Here Come the Brides), Little Joe (from Bonanza), or Manolito Montoya (The High Chaparral) before my cousins did. Does this date me or what?!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Where I Get My Inspiration

I only remember my dreams if I wake up right in the middle of one, which is the pits because I never get to see the end of my dreams. Once I woke up as I dreamed of a song. Unfortunately, my dream only provided me with the first three words and the beginning of a tune. I was left to complete it in my waking state. Not an easy thing to do since I'm neither a poet nor a musician. I had to plunk out the tune with one finger on the piano and try to get it written correctly on the staff. Then I took it to a friend to create the accompaniment.

I've had five dreams that were the beginnings of middle grade or young adult novels. I've had two dreams that were more for picture books--as short as picture books are, even the picture book dreams were too short to finish the story line. How I wish my dreams would complete the stories. Why should I have to do all the work?

I try to sketch a lot because I'm learning how to draw. I'm not very good at drawing real people or objects so I draw images I see in the clouds, in carpet or wall textures, or just a picture thought that flitters through my mind. Mostly, my sketches are silly things. Those silly sketches have inspired four ideas for picture book manuscripts. Like my dreams, the sketches don't write the words. I have to do that.

Well, sort of. Most of the plays I write are adapted from fairy tales, folk tales, fables and tall
tales. I enjoy doing that. There is one play that I want to adapt from an epic poem--the poem has such a great storyline. I actually managed to write Parables, a two-hour musical based on New Testament stories (again, what is a non-musician like me thinking! oh, but it felt good to finish it and see it performed). I was thinking about tall tales when I came up with a picture book idea. I don't think I could write a script from a novel; I love books and I would feel like I was ruining it if I left anything out. Kudos to those playwrights and screenwriters who do a good job.

Yes, truly & embarrassingly, I have created plays based on what accent I want to hear. I haven't come up with any stories because of accents...well, there is a group of stories I wrote that would have accents if they were read correctly but that's because of the setting.

Best inspiration of all.

I should hurry and get those stories written before a new dream, a funny sketch, a great fable or cool accent comes along to add to my writing list.

I Never Thought of Being a Writer

You know those author biographies at the end of books? Or perhaps you've seen or read an author interview? You know how they always say "I wanted to be a writer since I was little." and "I wrote my first novel when I was 10."?

True confession: It never occurred to me to be a writer when I was five...or 10. I was busy playing. I didn't write. Except now and then for a school assignment. I read a lot. Does that count?

I wrote my first play when I was 32. Well, I did start one in college for my play writing class. I tossed the script after I got a grade; it was stupid (the script, not the grade). I wrote plays because I could and it was cheaper than paying royalties. I didn't know I wanted to be a writer until several years later when I made myself attend a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference. I had to know if writing was for me. I signed up for everything--a critique, open mic, critique groups. Geez, I scared myself to death.

So now I know. I'm a writer.

Friday, May 1, 2009

"Untitled Crowley Project"--I was a stand-in

I was a stand-in on Wednesday for a yet-to-be-titled movie
starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, some cute kids, etc., along with Jeanette McMahon (pronounced "mac'-muh-hon," not "mac-man'," she informed me, and I hope I got that right) for whom I was the stand-in. It was fun meeting her. A stand-in gets no film time. As a stand-in, I'm basically a prop that can move itself; I was to stand-in for Jeanette during camera and lights set-up. There was more standing around than standing in. But I loved it! Let me tell you about it:
*There are more crew members than cast members. I would guess that the crew outnumbered the actors about 10:1. But maybe it just seemed that way because they were moving everywhere.
*Crew members get to carry cool utility belts that are just like Mary Poppins's bottomless bag. Once the main little girl actress sneezed and needed a tissue. No less than three crew members started pulling out tissues from their utility belts. The crew member in front of me pulled out a can of Dust Off to clean the camera lens then it disappeared back into her utility belt. Someone called for scissors--they were coming out of all sorts of utility belts. The mechanism for the lift on the van dropped and busted open a bit. Two crew members had that back together with electricians tape. Tools, tape, tissues, scissors, lint brushes, and probably the kitchen sink were inside those belts. The radios they all carried were primarily clipped to the back pocket. It looks kewler that way.
*You can get a lot done as a stand-in. I was on set from 9:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. I stood-in about three times; watched a lot, and edited my children's script for CET ( using a clipboard. Not a brilliant idea. My arm, shoulder and neck were painful when I went to bed. Ouch.
*The call for lunch was about 4 p.m. I thought that was a pretty clever idea. Then you don't have to feed the actors (and props like me) dinner, too. And the truth of the matter is: you have to film while you have the weather to do so. The food was superb! I had a little of everything. The main dishes were herbed chicken breast, tri-tip steak and halibut. When I go watch the movie, I will applaud during the credits when the caterer's name rolls by!
*For the hours I spent there, the filming was all centered around the van. ALL of the filming was centered around the van in the driveway from at least 10-7:30 p.m. Each area was shot several times. There were shots happening at the rear of the van. The cameras were moved a bit and we have a few shots of the side of the van and the skateboarding child in the driveway. The right back doors were removed for inside of van shots. Those doors were replaced and the doors on the left were removed for more inside van shots. Cameras were moved and then we had takes looking straight into the front of the van. Then seats were removed in the back of the van (this is where I got to stand-in by sitting in the passenger front) and shots were taken looking outside the van. I had to step over cables, around tripods holding cameras, and squeeze between people to get to my place. I'm telling ya: crew work is intensive and seems more fascinating than the acting.
*The real Crowley family showed up, along with the nurse who's been with them for a LONG time, I understand. How neat is that! So when you watch the special features on the DVD, you'll see Tom Vaughn, the director, Keri Russell, the kids playing the Crowley kids, and others all standing around and talking and getting pictures taken. Cool! This wikipedia entry is about the family, kinda, more about dad; there's a book out, too:
The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – And Bucked the Medical Establishment – In a Quest to Save His Children
*I got to chitchat with the Grandma of the boy who plays John, jr. After the shoot is over, they're touring Oregon. I told her some Oregon greats to go see. What fun.

I learned so much while watching everybody do their thing. It was fascinating (did I already say that?). Mainly I learned I prefer the stage!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where's the Burst?

After that burst of writing upon completing taxes, I haven't written much since...oh, a little maybe, jotting ideas maybe, but not much. I think I was busy but I don't know with what. I suppose if I put my calendar in front of me, I would figure out exactly what all went on. That's sad. I have this lost week. Except I had a really great Friday and Saturday with my husband. We went away for those two days to celebrate our 27th anniversary. Maybe it was a needed break and now I'll concentrate on what on earth I am doing with my time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Burst of Writing

Wow! Sure enough after doing taxes, I really needed to do something creative. For the past few days since April 15, I have managed the following:
*Completed one 1000 word non-fiction article
*Completed and posted clues for five letterboxes
*Rough drafted one 355 word story
*Drew and colored five illustrations (I should post one or two)
*Edited a cover letter, then sent it with the story to Hopscotch.
*Wrote a 471 word piece and submitted it to Family Fun.
*Re-read (Reading is part of my writing education) Escape to Witch Mountain so I could remember details before seeing the newest Disney version; even the trailer is incredibly different from the book, looks fun but totally different from the book

I didn't get to my script or theater book like I planned but tomorrow is a new day in which to create.

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Taxes Done; Time to Play/Write

I e-filed yesterday morning and my reward to self was playing and writing! My family and I did a little letterboxing (info on letterboxing: and then I began one of the several articles in my head. As soon as I finish this post, I'll finish the article, start another one, finish a cover letter and submit the story, complete a children's script, and edit my theater book ( I'm so glad to be away from the monotony and detail work required to do taxes, and get back to words and creativity!

The article ideas keep flowing because of the instructions given in Christina Katz's book Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. (

I think, too, that I'll play Syzygy (, a fast-paced word game. I deserve several days of playing after the intensity of doing taxes.

Words, glorious words: reading, writing, playing. I love it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Two Different Shows in Two Consecutive Days

Be unmemorized? Moi? Jamais.
Nor will I ever mention the number of pleading prayers said within those two days.

I love performing once it's over. But the preparing for it can be so stressful. I tend to think I'm not ready--sometimes that's true. Fortunately, my husband with whom I usually perform is understanding, especially when I pre-apologize. When I perform with my daughter, I worry though because I know she'll be better memorized than I and I don't want to goof her up. My husband is able to wing it until I figure out where I'm supposed to be. It always feels like an eternity has passed by while I'm improvising lines with my husband but in reality we're talking up to five SECONDS.

Time is such a relative thing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Easy Way

I have got to find a job where there's no rejection associated with it. Absolutely everything I do involves me putting myself in a position to be judged...and rejected.

I had written a number of children's scripts when I got the idea that I should submit them to contests and to publishers. One publisher's comment in the Writer's Market book was: "Don't write scripts. But if you must write scripts, don't write children's scripts..." That was slightly discouraging. One of the children's plays I submitted for a contest was one for children to perform; admittedly, it was not a heavy theme. I got--was it a 0?--from one judge and a 5 from another. Okay then. My script should not have gone there.

I write and submit picture book texts. The picture book market, editors say, is soft. Figures. I once had an editor critique a story and she asked me to email her a copy so she could discuss it with her staff. It was a no-go. A different editor critiqued the same story six months later. She didn't like it at all. All-righty then.

More scripts and picture book texts have gone out...form rejections usually. And let the record show that I AM trying to improve my craft.

We performed a murder mystery that was so un-fun for a customer that she posted it on the internet. *sigh* I suppose she should if she really felt that way. I performed a singing telegram for which someone called later and was so displeased. Okay, actually I've had two displeased calls about singing telegrams. I love performing mime but even from my own grandmother I've heard, "I can't understand a thing you're doing." *heavier sigh* An arts-in-education organization, for whom we did shows geared for elementaries, took us off their roster because there weren't enough requests for us. *heaviest sigh ever*

And yet...and yet...
*Ridge Mill Elementary in New York won a theater contest with one of my scripts. (Personally, I think it says a lot for the directors and their students but still it was my script). A short script of mine was published in PLAYS magazine.
*One murder mystery audience member said after a show, "That was so great, I kept forgetting to say my line!" Another participant decided to get involved in her church theater group after being part of our show; she said she didn't have the courage before.
*A singing telegram customer hired us two more times because they enjoyed what we did.
*After a mime show, one young person said, "Now I'm going to be smiling the rest of the day."
*A principal was thrilled with what we did for his students.

I suppose if I worked in an office someone might criticize me for not being nice enough (we had a friend fired because his co-workers thought that).
If I was a lawyer...well, they make jokes about lawyers.
If I was a teacher, perhaps a parent, the principal, or the nation might tell me how badly I'm teaching (especially if I did things differently--watch "Stand and Deliver," "Freedom Writers," or "Take the Lead")
If I was "just" a mom, I'd be criticized for not "working." (Mostly, I am "just" a mom and I've worked dang hard to be my own children's guide and "childcare provider").

I've never been one to take the easy way. Why start now? Besides, I just convinced myself that criticism comes to all occupations; I might as well not listen unless it helps me improve.

Gonzo: I have a dream, too...I wanna go to Bombay,
India and become a movie star.
Fozzie: You don't go to Bombay to become a movie star.
You go where we're going--Hollywood!
Gonzo: Sure. If you wanna do it the easy way.
Fozzie: (to Kermit, quietly) We picked up a weirdo.
--The Muppet Movie

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Theater Activity #1: Projection

Theater is an amazing art that carries over into real life. Children (and adults) develop and increase in skills such as reading, team work, confidence, creativity, speech, cooperation and more. It enhances a child's (and adult's) learning capacity. Theater skills are used in the big people world: job interviews, team work and cooperation to solve a problem, presenting ideas to a group, giving speeches. So here's an activity to do with your child. If you don't have one then find one so you can practice without embarrassment because it's good for adults too.

Theater Activity #1: Projection
Projection is speaking loud enough to be heard in the back of the room by someone who is hard of hearing, even if a fan comes on. But it's not screaming. You're not speaking just to the quiet person in the front. Stand across the living room from your child. The child says, "Hi, my name is _____. My favorite color is ____________." If the child is not easy to hear, say, "Project" and the child tries again, being louder this time. Try this again as you step further from the child (such as into the hallway). Use different sentences: My favorite food is... My favorite animal is... etc.
Now take it outdoors and try again. More projection is needed outdoors where there are no walls to hold in the sound. Projection can be practiced with things such as spelling words, math facts, or historical events.

Monday, March 30, 2009

FAQ #3 Are you really a princess?

Usually asked when we're performing Princess on a Pea, the answer is (non-technically speaking) YES!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Show Must Go On...two thoughts

Aa! A year or so ago we performed a murder mystery in an art gallery. During the show, I bumped against a glass display shelf and it started to go down. Mind you, this is in an art gallery and there's ART on this display shelf. I caught the shelf but not the clay creation on top which fell onto the clay creation on the floor. We bought those clay creations. Last night we did the same show in a living room. This time it was my husband and acting partner who performed the boo-boo: he brushed against someone's wine glass. Red wine on a white carpet. Dang it. We profusely apologized AFTER the shows (and offered to pay for damages), because the shows had to go on & did.

"The Show Must Go On" is not necessarily true in business. This was a discussion at a business class I was helping to teach and the subject was the ideal customer. There are those people who are the opposite of your ideal customer. What they want makes you look bad. For us it was a singing telegram for a 2-year-old. In trying to accommodate the customer, we came off stinking...and we happen to be good at what we do. Another customer hired us to perform on the bottom deck of a boat. The walled staircase came right through the center of the area--we could only perform to 1/2 the audience at a time...again, we looked BAD! If you're in business, remember that the customer may "always be right" but not right for you and your business; the show shouldn't go on for a bad match.

Tip: Apparently, if you pour white wine onto the spilled red wine and top it with salt, the red wine doesn't cause a stain. Or you can use club soda and baking soda. We don't drink but I wonder if that would work for something like cranberry juice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FAQ #2 Can you do the box?

And how! I can do it fast, slow, and medium speed. I can make it tump over. I can make it surround me or surround an audience. I can shrink it, escape from it, or remain trapped forever. I can have a box with a top or open at the top. I can make a gift box and pull something neat out of it and I can build one the size of a small house. I can teach it to 20 people and have them create a box that surrounds just them. Boxes, real or mimed, are just food for the imagination.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FAQ #1: Do you get nervous before a performance?

Always. Right before and right after, but never during (as long as I've rehearsed enough).

Performer's Tip for the Day: Keep your brain engaged after a performance

After a performance, I tend to be exhausted and relieved. Sometimes my brain goes out-of-gear. Don't do it. Don't fall into that trap. Recently, I finished a singing telegram (one wouldn't think that a 5-min singing tele would be an exhausting thing but it is)--last one for the day--and I jumped in my car to head home. I must have disengaged my brain because I started going the wrong way on a one way street, and I ran a red light turning left. Kudos to the drivers of McMinnville for avoiding my brainless self. It must have been my evil twin, taking over my body.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Blog's Focus

I'm supposed to be writing about writing and performing. I've now talked about pets in two long posts. Fine. Let's see:
*I renamed my theater book to Speak Up, Speak Out, Show Your Stuff: Easy Theater Activities to Improve Children's Speaking and Creative Abilities.
I'm editing it. I'll probably change the name, too.
*I didn't perform this past week, but on Friday, I will.
*The kids in my after-school class did perform this past week. They did great. Parents impressed.
*I'm reading Writer Mama by Christina Katz. Good book. Learning lots. Sold an article because of her tips.

Okay, good then. I've brought the blog back on focus.

And the Dog Takes Off, Too. And While We're Talking about Pets...

Not to be out done by the cat, Cute, one of our outdoor dogs, broke her chain and went racing through the neighbors' fields after dark this evening. Cute is black. Hard to see in the dark. We weren't worried or heart sick this time. Frustrated would be a better word. Okay, maybe a tad worried--not for the dog but for the chickens she might have chased and caught. I don't think our neighbors have chickens any more though. So we waited and she came back promptly--9 p.m. compared to Bobcat's 5:20 a.m.

And while we're on the subject of pets: my 12 yo wanted to buy her own pet. She looked into corn snakes and lizards. I don't know why the reptiles but that's what she wanted. She finally decided on a bearded dragon. We went to the store to buy the cage set up and had everything in the basket but the light. The bulb cost $80! We put everything back and went to craigslist to see what was available. We also went to and found more information than we had before. Then we returned to the pet store to gain more knowledge. Those bearded dragons have to eat crickets every day and not the ones you catch in your field; no, you must buy the non-disease carrying crickets at the pet store and the crickets need to be gut-loaded, which means they're being fed a special diet high in vitamins and minerals so they will be of nutritional value to the bearded dragon, because crickets don't have nutritional value. And those blasted crickets are 15 cents each and a young beardie needs six per day and you have to have a container to hold the crickets and you have to buy the special food for the crickets so they'll be nutritionally valuable to the dragon. And the crickets are just a side note for food for the bearded dragon. I have no idea how bearded dragons survive in the wild, eating non-nutritional, disease-laden crickets. If we want one in the house, we'll move to Australia and it can catch it's own food.

My 12 yo is just going to get another Tamagotchi or two, this time with my enthusiastic approval.

(Hats off to those of yo
u keeping bearded dragons and other cool pets like that)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bobcat's Outdoor Adventure

Once upon a time there was a cat named Zorro the Phantom Bobcat because of the black marking on the right side of her face, and her bobbed tail. Her family called her Bobcat for short. Sometimes they just called her Kitty because she was so small and delicate...

So, our cats are indoor cats. We live on a busy road and we'd lost four cats to that road before we decided to never own cats again. But that vow didn't last so the next cute kittens that came into our house became indoor cats only.

Bobcat came to us three years ago. She was the runt of the litter and full of personality. She liked to go adventuring in the garage (and she's a pretty good mouser, too, leaves them on the steps to the garage--ick!). We ALWAYS make sure the door to the backyard is closed when we let her into the garage. You know where this is going - we let her into the garage at 9 p.m. and I went to let her back into the house at midnight but no Bobcat. The garage door was open. This happened to be a nice spring night for Oregon, no rain. We called and looked until 1 a.m. (we live out in the country, sort of, so we weren't disturbing neighbors), then stayed up listening for her until 2 a.m.. We were scared and heart sick. Not only do we have the Road in front of our house, we also have Owls which could easily snatch our runty Bobcat; and Foxes in the field; Skunks, Racoons, and Dogs live in the vicinity, too. Bobcat would have taken them on more than likely. She acts so big and bossy.

Happy ending though: I saw Bobcat dashing for the garage at 5:20 a.m. (after my nap of three hours). I dashed for the garage too. By the time I got to the backyard door, Bobcat circumvented the junk in the garage and was already in the house. We allowed her to sleep with us...although, I had second thoughts when she tried to bite my toes. Stupid cat.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scripts, Picture Books, and Dialogue.

Since most of my writing is for turning out scripts, I'm used to writing nothing but dialogue. As a director/writer I see the play in my head, including the set. Sometimes it's hard to switch to narrative such as needed for stories. I can get the conversations going between the princess and the dragon, for instance, but I forget to describe the surroundings, to tell the story. I guess I figure everyone is seeing the story "play" in their heads. I better practice not writing dialogue. *sigh*...and if you're having trouble with dialogue, read (and write?) lots of plays.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Worst Places for Singing Telegrams

Don't do a singing telegram at the Oregon state capitol. Apparently the powers that be won't let you come in if you're there to do a singing telegram. A certain representative's birthday was last week and his team wanted to surprise him. We decided on the female pirate to tease the (relatively) young representative. I had my contact make sure latex balloons were allowed in the capitol (our treated balloons stay up for a week or more; it would have been awful had I accidently released one in the rotunda--tempting, but no). As it turns out, the latex balloons could enter the capitol but I couldn't. My contact and a couple of his team members videoed my schtick on the capitol steps. It went well I think. I hope the Representative enjoyed the tiny me singing to him. So remember, the state capitol is too dignified for happy things.

You also have to watch out for banks. I suppose the people in banks have good reason; they have to be alert for suspicious characters. And when doing a singing telegram, we really do look strange. Anyway, my husband recently performed four singing telegrams at banks. Could the people in the banks try harder to avoid looking at him? The people receiving the singing telegrams were laughing but their cohorts acted as if they were very--and I mean, very--busy. To be fair though, the employees of two out of four banks had senses of humor. One branch was inside a grocery store--those employees had a good time, and the other was a regular branch filled with good-natured employees. I may have to take my business there; I like happy people.

Although most restaurants don't have a problem with singing telegrams, be cautious with those that have "atmosphere." Olive Garden once told my husband to be quieter. He was disturbing those around him. Um, yes, that would be the point. And it's not like a singing telegram lasts 20 minutes or longer (3-5 minutes). Of course, I was once doing a singing telegram in the foyer of Olive Garden (Friday night, very crowded) and the employees didn't seem to mind then. Maybe it was too crowded to actually reach me. (And for the record, we love eating at Olive Garden).

Another bad place for singing telegrams is at children's play places, and the singing telegram is for a child. Yes, we have done singing telegrams for kids--it's not the best idea. I did it at a party at a playground. The child and his friends wanted to...PLAY. We did it for a 2-year-old--bad mistake--at a children's museum. The 2-year-old and the little friends cried. They also wanted to go PLAY. (Doing a singing telegram for young children only makes the performer look bad--avoid that. We now do them for 16 and up, only).

That would be the top four places where one should not perform singing telegrams. And there are exceptions to everything, of course. But basically, there you have it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Children's script...edited rough draft

Yay! I managed to edit my newest script once--I deleted some of the lines that needed to go to make the script fit the necessary running time better. Now I have about two more edits to go--I need to add some lines in some areas, count lines for some of the characters, and then I need to get the tunes just right for the three songs in the play. But for now, I got through one edit.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Moms and Dads Love to Watch Their Little Ones

It was a success! An elementary where I teach after-school theater classes held an arts night for the families. My two groups were to demonstrate some of the things they'd been learning. I chose whole group movement activities to have the kids show off. They did "machines" (the kids become the machine and the audience had to guess what machine they were depicting), "walk-through" (the kids "walked through" peanut butter, a blizzard, a desert), "Act as if" (the kids walked as though they were movie stars, spies, looking for a $100 bill), and the older class even performed a very short version of The Grasshopper and the Ants. As the kids walked back and forth across the stage several times, or created simple machines, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this was a little dull for the parents. Perhaps I should have made the students rehearse skits from Day 1, maybe made the skits into mini-musicals, had the kids costumed with props in their hands. But I always forget that parents are delighted to see their children on stage, even if it's something simple. The directors of the after-school program told me afterwards how wonderful the students did; how unusually quiet the parents were as they watched; what a great opportunity for these children. The students, despite being a little afraid, got up on stage in front of 100 parents and performed--I always forget that THAT is the best succcess for these little guys to experience. We can always practice skills but the kids have to overcome their fear of being in front of people first...and they did. Hooray for them!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Cat and the Computer

We have a young-ish cat who, like most cats, wants attention when she wants attention and not before. For some reason, when any of us are on a computer, that's when she wants attention. Today, I'm trying to rest so I can get well and I bring my computer into my room and set it on a card table. Suddenly the cat is there. She wants to be petted because I'm working on the computer. She didn't seem to notice me when I was reading, no, no, just when the computer came on. She must be a very modern cat, very techno savvy. She's not interested in sitting on the book I'm reading, she wants to sit on the computer I'm using.

Adorable Princesses

We had a great time performing The Princess on a Pea yesterday (despite my cold). As children entered the theater, I let them know that we needed volunteers from the audience and if they wanted to volunteer "just raise your hand." I told that to the first little girl to enter the theater and she raised her hand while I was talking. Every time I walked by, before we even started, she raised her hand. I stopped to talk to her and she said, "I've never been in a play before."

The play starts out with the queen and the prince at the ball. I, as the queen, insist that the prince dance with the princesses in attendance and begin bringing up girls from the audience to dance with him. The little girl who kept raising her hand was first, as Princess Elizabeth. There were two more girls chosen to "dance with the prince." None of them cried (sometimes that happens); each of them answered the prince's questions as they danced.

Later, there are three "foreign" princesses chosen from the audience to meet the prince. They meet him one at a time and each time the queen tells them how to answer his questions, so they "won't be nervous." The first one is supposed to say "yes" to every question. In the past, Chris (who plays the prince) almost always has to help the girl remember what she's supposed to answer because the questions are things like "Did your journey tire you?" The little princess wants to say no even though she's been told to say yes. But the first little girl (and she was little) was right on with her yeses. The second princess, a little older than the first, was to always answer "no" and she did it with flying colors. The third princess answers "what do you think?" and she had the audience laughing.

Now there were some boys in the play too. One played the captain of the ship who sailed the servant (Chris again) to get the foreign princesses. From backstage, I heard the captain say, "we're almost to land." Totally improvised. Audience enjoyed it. The messenger who announced the princesses to the prince was also a boy (he had raised his hand to be one of the foreign princesses but Chris passed him over). As the messenger, he did a great job. He spread his arms and announced "Princess ______," whichever princess it was, very loudly. Loved it.

All the kids were just delightful performers. What fun!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I Absolutely Hate About Plumbing Repairs

I think I can do it myself. I try, so I can be "thrifty." How hard can it be to replace a few washers so the drips stop? Two trips to the hardware store and six hours later, we call the plumber to finish up (and repair?) what we started. I hate that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What I Absolutely Love About Interactive Theater

Child-like joy on people's faces is the BEST. When children are mesmerized by a play, believing that the stove where Jack hid is just behind the curtain; when adults are sitting on the edges of their seats waiting to say their lines during a mystery--I get to see the same kind of smiles light up their faces, no matter the age. And those smiles bounce back to me. The difficulty is staying in character when I want to laugh with the audience. I get to laugh later, when the show is over and I'm thanking the children for playing harps, hens, princesses, etc. and the adults for playing Mr. Chips, Miss Fortune, Boone, etc. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


(I'm having fun with those artist colored pencils)

(and it's hard to get the color right when trying to upload to the internet)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Grasshopper and the Ants

After I told the kids to whom I'm teaching theater the story of the The Grasshopper and the Ants, a small group went off to create a skit about it. They had those ants down. The kids followed the leader as she walked in straight lines and curved lines. And they concentrated on getting every piece of imaginary morsel on the ground. Best set of human ants I've ever seen.