Thursday, March 31, 2011

Writers' Festivals

A writers' festival in my town, which was to happen in ten days, has been cancelled by the sponsors due to low registration. First of all, what a terrible thing for them to be forced to do, after all their planning and organizing which must have been going on for close to a year. No doubt there's some financial loss there, too. And then there's the effect that a cancellation will have on future plans by the group. Most alarming of all, however, is why? Why would a festival with fulsome reservations for two years running have next to no reservations for the third year? Timing of the festival? Appeal of the presenters? Choice of seminar topics? Promotion of the festival? Registration difficulties? Cost of attendance? Venue? Murphy's Law? As an area writer, I am concerned for finding the why. The answer could point to a problem that is affecting our entire writing community or it could be a learning situation for us all. Opinions from my watchers or my Amazon friends are invited.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


While working on my notes for my presentation at the Rochester Writer's Festival I find that almost every point I make brings a flood of inspiration for more things I could write. The title of the presentation is "Write The Children's Play That Theatres Are Looking For." I don't stop and write down every zinger of inspiration, but I have stopped and written out two detailed outlines for children's plays.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


This thought is entirely out of the range of writing, but.... We've dealt with a significant number of contractors in the past ten months--tree removal, fence replacement, shingle replacement, new concrete driveway, floor sanding--and we do decide which one to deal with based on estimate, experience and all that, but it's interesting that both my husband and I will immediately reject any contractor bidding for a job if he or she interrupts us when talking about the project. A lot of it has to do with good manners, but there's also the fear that if a contractor can't hear our questions out when making an estimate, how much will he or she listen to us come the time to actually do the work?

Monday, March 28, 2011

MWA Newsletter

The Minnesota Writers' Alliance newsletter for April is going to be a great issue. Many people have contributed an opinion on how to find the time to write, and the variety of suggestions is especially worthwhile.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Book-selling Dilemma

I'll be going to an indoor flea market within the hour, where many dealer friends and acquaintances will have seen the front-page article in "The Old Times" about my book, NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE. I was thinking of taking along a small number of copies of the book in case anyone wanted to buy one, but.... As I said, these are fellow antiques friends and acquaintances; do I have the nerve to say, "Sure I can get you a copy, that'll be $7.00 please." Besides, is it correct to sell a product at an event where one has not registered and paid the vendor fee? So I've decided not to take any books along.

I will, however, register and pay the fee to sell NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE and DEALER'S CHOICE at the big humongous indoor/outdoor flea market in August. If I'm sitting at a table with signage and prices prominently displayed, I won't have any compunctions about saying, "That'll be $7.00 please."

Friday, March 25, 2011


As I'm working on my notes for the 2011 Rochester Writer's Festival, in which I am presenting a seminar titled, "Write the Children's Play that Theatres are Looking For," I keep getting flashes of inspiration. In fact, twice now, while I was refining what I would say about where to find inspiration, inspiration itself zapped me, and I had to sit down and write a quick outline for a children's play. Twice.

The good news, under the heading of be careful what you wish for, is that I now have four plays, two novels, a collection of humor columns, and a collection of short stories all on the burner in outline form and the decision of which to get to first. This isn't because I can't finish a project, but rather because new ideas keep rolling in and to keep them from disappearing in my memory, I must write an outline.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good Plays & Bad Plays

I find myself being critical of certain types of plays, and it makes me wonder. For instance, I have a low opinion of schlocky "high school" plays full of sophomoric humor and I have a serious antipathy for plays that are derivative spoofs on another form of theatre. Okay, that's a flat statement. Now, what gets odd is that I tolerate, even appreciate, the same thing in skits. For instance, if I saw a six-minute take-off on "Saturday Night Live" of "The Good Wife," I would probably enjoy it. A full-length 1 1/2- to 2-hour play that was a take-off on TGW, however, I would not sit still for. I wonder if it's a case of a joke should be brief, or a case of how dare you charge money and my time for such a low-class offering? And to take this discussion one step odder, I write farces, so is it a case of the pot calling the kettle black? I hope not. My defense is that only some of the jokes or sight gags in farces are cheap shots, and they don't owe their existence to being a monkey on the back of a better creative work.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Promoting My Book

Yesterday I started promoting my book, NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE. I was waiting until the printed version was available on Amazon, and until we were close to the release date for the April issue of The Old Times.

The Old Times says they're planning to do a cover spread of me. It will be distributed March 29. So I sent all the information they had plus some extra biographical material to the Post-Bulletin, the Daily Herald, and KTTC. For the P-B I made sure to mention that I had written their humor column "Bittersweet" for some years. For the Daily Herald I mentioned that I had directed theatre a lot in Austin and also wrote Austin's Bicentennial play. For KTTC, I think fellow writer Tom Overlie will look out for me. If Tom ever does an interview of me, I think he may be pleasantly surprised to discover that I am a voluble subject.

Just yesterday Shari Brandhoy, a long-time theatre friend, did my first review on Amazon. Yaaaayyy.

At any rate, all this should hit between March 23 and 30. During that time I will have to construct a direct email release. Busy girl.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Pitchfork Behind the Throne

"I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition," Shakespeare had Macbeth say. I feel a kinship with that. I have the vaulting ambition, speaking of publication and promotion, and I'm working on it, I'm working on it. And it is fortunate or unfortunate that I actually have the pricking spur, in the form of my Sweetie. He wields the dread Pitchfork of Reminder. "Shouldn't you be contacting newspapers by now?" "Shouldn't you have your book on Nook by now?" "Have you finished the mail list for...?" "Should you call so-and-so and ask him to write a review?" Actually, he's okay. I'm okay. It's Mother Nature who isn't okay. I seriously need 36-hour days!

Friday, March 18, 2011


The heavy carton full of NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE arrived yesterday. The book will be on sale at the April 9 Rochester Writer's Festival.

Funny, the arrival seemed almost anticlimactic and I have yet to open the carton. I've already moved on to hoping for other things to happen. Not that I'm not excited about this, just that it was a sure thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Standing in Front

I timed my children's theatre presentation for the April 9 Rochester Writer's Festival and it was too long. I'll have to take a mean pen to some of my topics.

I'm my own worst enemy as far as timing. I am so comfortable talking in front of people that I spread myself out and give fun examples, further illustrations, comments on the main points.... don't forget I work at being charming as all get-out. I'm just a stage pig. I should go back to teaching; no one fell asleep in my classes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Newsletter Responses

Opinions on how to find the time to write are coming in to the Minnesota Writers' Alliance newsletter, and they're really great inspirations/helpful hints!

This response is mind-blowing for me, because..... In the past, for several months running I asked a selection of three writers to give their opinion on a particular subject, and got little to no response--often not even the courtesy of a response with an excuse. So then I upped my odds and asked six people for an opinion--got one response, begged for more and got one more. The others? Mostly blew me off with no communication. So this time I sent the request to everyone---all 250+ writers on the MWA net, and am getting a nice handful of really relevant responses. Yaaayyyy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Power of the Written Word

March 15. Every year when that date comes around, my brain shouts, "Caesar, beware the Ides of March." A line that was written by a playwright over 400 years ago. And Shakespeare is probably the most quoted person in all of history. Now that's the power of the written word. Of course he had good plots and recognizable characters, but he sure got it right when he put it on paper.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Looking Ahead

Busy yesterday. Proofing SOUTHERN SURRENDER, signing a contract for MURDER BY ACCIDENT, working on notes for the April 9 Writer's Festival here in Rochester.

Funny, isn't it, no matter how busy we are, we spend our lives anticipating what's next? Looking forward to good things coming? I'm eagerly anticipating a new radio in my car, a play I'll be seeing tonight, when my two plays will actually be offered to the public, when my web site will get those last little decorative tweeks, when a new design for DEALER'S CHOICE will arrive, and WHEN I can quit all this anticipating and get down to writing again!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Proof Copy

Got the proof copy of NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE Wednesday. Looks pretty good. There are a few small things I could have corrected, but they were all my short-sightedness and I didn't feel like holding up availability while I uploaded a corrected version.

Small things such as I should have used one more or one less page in the prefacing material to make the text start on a right-hand page. Such as a chapter end mark that just went over and wasted a whole page. Such as an indented quote that went to odd line layout when I re-formatted to a 6x9 page size. Nothing that will wreck the whole book.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Photos for newspapers

I spent a lot of yesterday getting photos of me for a newspaper article about NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE. I probably dashed my hopes for becoming a model by having one taken of me in rollers and bathrobe, sitting at the computer, eating potato chips while I write. (No, I don't really eat chips, but I do write in rollers.)

I write humor columns. NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE is a funny book. So, why should I rest on author dignity? What fan base I do have (readers of "The Old Times"), would expect nothing less than something goofy from me. So I gave them goofy--bare feet, big blue hair rollers and all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Murder By Accident

I got the notice yesterday. My farce, MURDER BY ACCIDENT, will be published by Eldridge Plays & Musicals--look for it in the fall catalog. As an added bonus they suggested a very small change to the ending, which was an excellent suggestion, and which made the end of the play even funnier.

When I become wildly successful at playwriting (notice I said "when," not "if?"), like the second Neil Simon, I hope I never get to thinking I know everything there is to know. There are so many neat moments in my writing that are thanks entirely to someone's else's bright suggestion. I claim them all as my own inspiration, of course, Mama didn't raise no stupid daughters.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Defining Theatre

More work today on my children's theatre presentation. It's amazing how theatre has specific genres & styles, and we all recognize them. But try to define them for people not totally oriented in theatre, and you find there are more exceptions than definitions!.

Just for example, define children's theatre. Easy, theatre intended for children to enjoy. But then you have to explain those theatres who do shows with lots of kids in the cast (Annie, Oliver, The King and I, etc.), and call themselves children's theatres. Not really. And the Junior Series of musicals now offered by many of the publishing companies, wherein the roles of adult scripts (Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, Oklahoma!, etc.)are simplified for children to perform. And they call it children's theatre. Not really.

Theatre. You gotta love it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Festival Presentation

Today I'll be doing some work on notes for my presentation at the Rochester Writer's Festival this April 9. I'll be teaching a seminar titled, "How To Write The Children's Play That Theatres Are Looking For."

I've been doing work on it bit-by-bit over the past month. My outline keeps growing. Just when I feel I have covered a subject well enough, I think of more information or more exceptions that should be noted. My game plan is to cover the necessary information in a concise fashion, leaving enough time at the end for questions. I may be my own worst enemy--I delight in giving examples of everything.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Web Site

I've been working on putting stuff into a revised web site that a writer friend of mine is helping me with. I'm having a great time fulminating about the software, learning, revising, having second thoughts, and generally making a mess. My poor friend is no doubt being driven crazy with emails ranging from panic to ire to total confusion.

I will eventually arrive at a good web site. Said friend will no doubt weather the storm, too. When things seem to be FUBAR, his reaction is, "Hmmm, how can we fix this?" My reaction is to explode straight up and come down spitting. I think we both get satisfaction from our reactions.