I’m ba-ack! (again)

Hello folks! Thanks for your patience as I took a little break from blogging. During that break, I finished a first draft, was cast in a play, and survived the holidays. Huzzah!

Time for the news:

*This site is old and needs to be not-so-old. I will endeavor to fix it up a little.

*If I ever want a website without …wordpress.com at the end, I need to change the domain name. Ah well, such is life. I’m okay with that.

*Shakes is doing The Merchant of Venice this summer! August. Pittsburgh. Be there.

*I am communicating with my editor and hope to give some Yellow Bike news soon! (Still so excited to be able to say that)

*I’m in a writing group! Of my own creation! I’ve made writing friends! It’s a dream come true.

*I may be on a panel at a writers’ conference this summer! Crazy.

*Beta-readers are asking about the future of Bleeder. #maybesomeday

*Oh! I joined Twitter. @LLAWrites.

*Google is so old- almost 16 months now. And he has a cold.

*My life is bonkers as I try to figure out bus schedules and babysitters so I can do this play. (Prussia 1866! It’s funny! At the Pittsburgh Playhouse in February!)

Okay, time is limited so I’ve gotta look at some new themes.

Shakes DIY: 5 ways to make teens into pros

We have professional standards for our Shakes kids. After all, we can’t have a professional-quality show if our kids are acting like amateurs.

Here’s how we get our professional results:

1) Expect professional results. This seems simple, but a lot of adults lower their expectations just because kids are kids. That doesn’t fly with us. We expect results, so we get them. Kids will rise to your expectations if you give them the chance and the tools to do so. Here are some things our kids do simply because it’s expected: Wear their costumes without complaining (unless something hurts). Use their rehearsal props. Hang up their costumes when they’re finished. Don’t touch other people’s props. Help set up/put away the rehearsal set. Look at their line notes and then look over their line notes. Follow the director’s direction onstage and the stage manager’s direction offstage. Respect the facility (both the rehearsal and performance spaces), respect the authority, respect each other, and respect themselves (the four rules of all Urban Impact programs).

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2) Use rewards more than punishments. We use food rewards a lot. I don’t necessarily agree with using food rewards for everything (see above- they get no rewards for those things except a hearty “Well done! Thank you!”) but they sure are helpful for big milestones, like line memorization and a habit of being on time. Example One: We expect lines to be memorized weeks before the show, and we hold them to it. We usually offer ice cream to the kids who are off-book on time. On their off-book date, we test them when they’re not rehearsing. If they have their lines memorized enough to drop the script, we take them out for ice cream. We’ve also had a big, half-hour-long sundae party when the whole cast was off-book once. If they’re not memorized, they get to see their friends have ice cream. Example two: We want to teach our kids to be on time. If a kid is on time for every rehearsal for a week, we order take-out for their last meal of the week. Sometimes it’s subs, sometimes calzones, sometimes deli sandwiches, sometimes pizza… Everybody gets lunch, but only kids who are on time every day get Special Lunch. Everyone else gets regular, boring ol’ cafeteria-style lunch. As for punishments… the worst I can think of is hiding their shoes and/or costume if they forget to put it away. Oh! And we charge them five dollars for a new script if they lose theirs.

deli vs cafeteria food

 

3) Show yourselves to be trustworthy. Kids will not give you their best work unless they trust you. That means listening to their ideas, fears, and insecurities, and taking them under consideration. On every audition form, we ask questions about comfort level when it comes to kissing, killing, singing, playing instruments- We don’t want to make kids do something that makes them really uncomfortable. We also as for their input when it comes to blocking, choreography, and music. We don’t laugh at them. We don’t make fun of them. We don’t let anybody else laugh at them or make fun of them. We workshop major scenes, taking their ideas into consideration, instead of giving them prescribed blocking. We only make promises we can keep. We are open and honest when things are going well and when they’re not going well (like when our venue backed out on us three weeks before the show). We show up. Every day. We go to their school plays. We answer the phone when they call.
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4) Cast a vision and make the kids part of it. Kids will not know professional theatre if they’ve never seen it before. Take them to see it. Tell them, “We’re going to be like that.” Show them movies. Tell them, “We’re going to act like that.” Play them music and say, “We’re going to sound like that.” Show them pictures and say, “You’re going to look like that.” Put their faces on the poster. They’ll want to show everybody. They’ll want to put the poster up. They’ll feel famous. If they see all those things and believe you (because you’re trustworthy, remember?), then they will work hard to achieve what you told them.
Julius Caesar poster 3 AWC

 

5) Provide professional-quality trimmings. I know this is the hardest one for most people reading this, but keep an ear to the ground and make some good connections with your local colleges. Our posters get a lot of attention because we use professional photographers and a real graphic designer. We have a professional set designer and lighting designer. Our props master (mistress) is detailed beyond belief. Our director is innovative and creative. We (meaning me) use fashionable friends to help with costume design. And, by the grace of God and through the generosity of volunteers, it’s all within budget. Like I said, this is the one area where we can’t give you a cut-and-dry “how-to” because our professionals are all blessings we could have never gotten on our own. But here’s the thing: If you have the other four things, this last one is less important. Our Romeo and Juliet had very little professional anything, and it was still impressive because we followed the first four guidelines.

The Friar watches as the wedding crumbles.

 

Which of these suggestions can you follow today? Right now? What are your expectations for your students? What kind of rewards can you use? How can you instill trust? What vision will you cast? And how can you start putting feelers out for those hidden professionals?

Leave your answers in the comments!

Shakes DIY: Schedule stuff

So now that I’ve give you a few pep talks and told you how to make Shakespeare cool, let’s talk nitty-gritty.

What does a day at Shakes look like?

We run Shakes in the summer, four or five days per week for six or seven weeks,  so we have a ridiculous amount of time with our kids. Here’s what an average day looks like:

9:30 AM– Optional work-out. We work core mostly- abs, arms, some stretching… a great way to get in shape/stay in shape for the summer.

10:00 AM SHARP– We open with prayer. Urban Impact is a faith-based holistic ministry and we believe that the body, mind, AND soul are important! If you’re late for prayer, you’re considered late (remind me to do a post on how we get kids there on time!)

10:10 AMActing Class starts. Each year’s acting classes are tailored to the students we have and the play we’re performing. We’ve done everything from zip-zap-zop and volume exercises to Viewpoints and Laban.

10:55 AMBreak. ‘Cause they gotta check their phones sometime!

11:05 AMEnglish Class. Our incredible English teacher tailors each year’s focus to the group and the play. We learn everything from deciphering the text to the Great Chain of Being!

11:50 AM- Break. Again with the phones…

12:00 PMBible Study. The soul is important! We split guys and girls during most of the week so they can concentrate better and speak more freely. We come together once a week to do a group study.

12:30 PMLunch. We are blessed to be able to feed our kids alongside the church’s summer day camps! Our food is provided through SNAP.

1:00 PMRehearsal. We rehearse in a space that is separate from our performance space. Like a professional theatre company, we tape the outline of the already-designed set onto the carpet of our rehearsal room. The kids who aren’t in rehearsal are memorizing their lines or running scenes in rehearsal rooms.

3:50 PM- Prayer again. We meet together to say goodbye.

4:00 PM– Students are dismissed.

And that’s when the real work for the adults begins- tech-ing an entire show.

Let me know if you have any questions and good luck with your own schedule!

Shakes DIY: Making Shakespeare Cool

Why don’t kids like Shakespeare?
Probably because their main exposure to it is sitting in class, cold-reading it in front of their friends and stumbling over every other word. (“Cold-reading” is a theatre term that means, “to read aloud for the first time.” Professional actors are cowed by cold-reading Shakespeare.) They don’t know what it means, they just know that everyone’s giggling because they’re Lady Macbeth and have to say “damn.” They see pictures on the cover of these books of people who look nothing like them, doing things they’ve never done.

Ah yes- I wear this all the time.

If I had a nickel for every time I see this…

So this play is about a girl WITH GIANT SHOULDERS and a mask…?

So how do we, at Urban Impact Shakes, make Shakespeare relevant, approachable, and, dare I say it, fun?

How about you learn from our mistakes!

Our first year of Shakes, we did Romeo and Juliet, set in the 1930’s. It was tremendously successful. Nobody even thought Shakespeare could be performed without pumpkin pants and pointy hats! They were awed.

pointy hats   pumpkin pants

“Great!” we thought. “Let’s take our next concept out of history!” So the second year, we did The Tempest set in Post-WWII Siberia. Although the staging, costumes, and especially acting was better, it was… less successful. Now that the students knew we could do Shakespeare without pumpkin pants, they were not awed by our new concept. Despite the 10-foot-tall sprite on stilts and glow wire magic guns.

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After The Tempest, we had a decline in enrollment, and only two new students. Uh-oh! Something must have gone wrong. Little did they know, Julius Caesar would be when we got it right. Why? We based our concept on something flashy, exciting, and way too hot to be cool. We invented something we called, “Rome-punk,” like steam punk but with Roman-era influences. Our set was deconstructed and in the round (so the audience surrounded us on all sides), our fights were more dances than fights, we involved the students (who, by now, were capable actors) in the creation of our movement. The costumes were based on runways in Milan. In short, we hit the jackpot.

Julius Caesar poster 3 AWC

We decided to take the theories behind what made Caesar so successful and implement them into Much Ado About Nothing, and here’s what we came up with:

1) Choose a concept that is interesting and current. For Much Ado, we did it in a neo-folk style. (like Mumford and Sons)

2) Involve your students in the creation of the show and ask them to contribute their unique gifts. We had a brilliant student musician in our group, so we asked her (and helped her) to write and perform music, which we taught to our students, who performed it live during the show. We spent hours workshopping the songs to make them work.

3) No age makeup. We have a rule in our shows now that the oldest person on stage is the oldest person in that world. Parent/child relationships are played out and understood, but age is suggested in costuming, mannerisms, and interaction, not black lines and grey hair.

4) Act alongside your students, or get semi-professionals to join in. The students will rise to their level. They’ll see the way Shakespeare is supposed to be portrayed. We had two post-grads and one college student in Caesar (told you enrollment was down!) and one post-grad in Much Ado.

5) Get professional posters. Really helpful if you can afford it. Your photo shoot will be one of your first activities together and it sets the tone for all your rehearsals as well as casts a vision so the kids can see what the final show will be like.

6) Let your kids be who they are. Our kids are urban kids. We don’t try to get them to put on British accents. Yes, they’re expected to speak clearly. No, they’re not expected to be suburban kids. When our Prince left his earrings in, we told him to keep them in. Every night.

Last year's production of Much Ado

 

What concept is rolling around in your mind? What are your kids good at? Will pumpkin pants ever make a comeback? We can only hope.

 

Shakes DIY: You can do it!

Question: When are you ready to start your own student Shakespeare program?

Answer: RIGHT NOW.

When we started, we were a motley crew: A professional actor, an aspiring director, and an English Education major. That’s it. Three semi-adults producing a fully-realized Shakespeare show with middle schoolers. The idea: Romeo and Juliet, set in the 1930’s, with the Capulets as stars of the silver screen and the Montagues as railroad-riding dustbowlers.
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You know one of the reasons we originally did Shakespeare? There were no royalties. We had next to no budget for this program. The average age of the cast was fourteen. We had no stock of costumes or props- we had to make or buy every little thing. Our lights were very old TV lights, and each had its own giant dimmer- no lighting board. Our sound system was borrowed and there weren’t enough mics. I was in charge of costumes and, to give you an idea of my sewing skills, it took me fourteen hours to make a white apron. Unlined. Our props master was the English major and she’d never made props in her life.

So how did we do it?

We had five things that made our first year successful:

1) VISION: Our aspiring director cast a vision and we told everybody that’s what we were striving for. We wanted to do professional-quality Shakespeare with teenagers. Nothing less.

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2) DRIVE: Literally and figuratively! We drove half the cast members to and from rehearsal every day. Our English teacher (the college student) picked up the girl who played Juliet every day to memorize lines before rehearsal. We drove our personal cars for hours on tour. And figuratively? We got pocket knives on ebay for a dollar each. We talked yardsalers out of their crates and barrels. We built a frame for the set in our two-bedroom, second-story apartment. Our director blocked every single move, using colored pencils and X’s and O’s like football plays. If our show was going to fail, it wasn’t going to be because we didn’t give it our all. And our show succeeded.
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3) STANDARDS: Our director never let us forget our standards. Each Capulet was outfitted only in black, white, and silver. Only. Each Montague was outfitted in brown, blue, green, and off-white. Only. Our Romeo was thirteen years old and was expected to memorize over 500 lines of Shakespeare. He did. Our students were expected to handle firearms (a starter pistol), fight choreography, and special effects blood like professionals. They did. They were expected to be off-book weeks before the show. They were. They were expected to wear their costumes without complaint. They did. We didn’t give them any excuses because they were young. We just expected them to rise to the occasion. And they did.
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4) SUPPORT: Remember our TV lights? Donated. The church space where we performed? Donated. Our tour performances happened only because the places we called said yes and offered to house us. Urban Impact Foundation backed us totally, giving all that they could in the way of time, money, connections, and personnel. A lady made us a dress. A volunteer went on tour with us to usher our audience and work the giant dimmer packs for our TV lights. Every day, lunches were provided by the food bank. And hundreds of people came to see our show.
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5) MIRACLES: We couldn’t have done it without the miracles that kept us keeping on. There were a lot. We worked hard, but none of this would have been possible without God. Example: Three weeks before the show went up, we still didn’t have a way to build one of the set pieces our director had designed. At this point, we either had to cut the piece or attempt to build it. That day, a woman walks into the Urban Impact offices. “I don’t know if you can use me,” she said, “but I’d like to volunteer for you. I’m a professional set designer.” That weekend, we were in her garage, building the set.

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You will never be completely ready. You will never have everything you need. At some point, you just need to jump in feet first and say, “Now is the time.” Keep following my Shakes DIY series- I’ll tell you how we costume a show in one week, how we do our sound design, what kind of personnel you need to do a professional-quality show, how to make Shakespeare cool, why our students keep coming back, how to foster a sense of community, what our daily schedule looks like, etc, etc.

If you have any specific issues you want addressed, feel free to contact me!

Shakes DIY: Purpose quest

So! I told you in my last post that I would tell you all about how my husband and I do our Shakes program. That is, a program in which we do professional-quality Shakespearean plays with kids from the inner city. It’s been talked about in English conferences across the country for the past two years and thousands of people have seen our performances.

Cast of Julius Caesar

First step to Shakes: We define our goal.

Shakes is, first and foremost, a mentorship and discipleship program in which we choose 10 or 12 students who we think have potential, and conscientiously invest in them. Everything goes back to that. We use Shakespeare to do it, but the main goal is to grow the students individually as leaders.

All of our decisions are based off of our main goal.

Example: We don’t hold auditions. Kids from our Urban Impact Performing Arts Academy are allowed to apply, and we hand-choose from the applicants. Some we choose because we see leaders in the making. Some we choose because we’d rather have them with us than in the streets for the summer. Some we choose because we want to surround them with a loving atmosphere. Some we choose because they just love the program so much they beg to be part of it. But we choose all of them, no audition required.

So if we are ever in a quandary about, say, whether a student should be in the cast when she’s making poor life choices, we go back to our main goal: How can we best help her and her fellow students to grow as a leader? We ended up asking her to do crew instead of being on stage.

So what is the goal of your program?

Do you want to teach literacy? Do you want to give kids stage experience? Do you want to invest in a kid’s life?

Pick a goal and go for it! The rest of your program decisions will be informed by this goal.

I’m getting published!!!

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so silent, it’s not only because I’m busy with the baby, the rough draft, the new Twitter account (@LLAWrites), and a trip across the country, it’s because…

I’m getting published and I couldn’t keep my mouth selectively shut, so I just kept it entirely shut!

Official announcement:
“Laura Lee Anderson’s YELLOW BIKE, in which a small-town high school waitress with a folk music obsession falls for a New York City rich kid… who’s deaf, to Meredith Rich at Bloomsbury Spark, for publication in 2015, by Uwe Stender at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world).”

It’s been a long process! Much longer than anticipated, but from what I hear that’s just the way things go. My intrepid, tireless, faithful agent, Uwe Stender, has been submitting for a long time as email after email of, “I was so close with this one,” or “I just signed a book that’s similar,” “we don’t feel we can break it out from the very crowded market that is YA right now,” “the premise just wasn’t big enough to get the team on board,”  “a bit too commercial,”  “as much as I enjoyed aspects of the manuscript, I’m afraid I just didn’t love it quite enough to move forward,” “I thought it felt a little quiet,” (all actual quotes from real editors) came in. I sent him an email once saying, “I could take rejections like this all day!” and I really meant it. What an honor to have all of these people from famous publishing companies take the time to read my book and say such nice things about it.

Here are some more snippets of the rejection letters: “…it is so very much in the wheel-house of ELEANOR AND PARK, THE TRAGEDY PAPER,”  “Robin and Carter are such an enticing pair,” “…both characters are handled very well as their alternating POVs invite the reader into their flirty back and forth,” “I think it’s truly a wonderful story,” “…a fresh twist on traditional young adult romance,” “It’s clear that Laura has strength in her prose,” and “…feels timeless and almost rose-tinted.”

And that’s just a random handful from a lot of great emails. Really- everyone was so kind! I’ve been an actor for years and let me tell you, this is one place where writing definitely has the upper hand. In acting, if you audition for a part and don’t get it, you often find out simply because rehearsals start and you were never called.

Again and again each editor echoed some form of the phrase, “I’m sure it won’t be long before someone else is snatching this one up!” but months passed and still no bite.

Finally, we struck gold with Meredith Rich at Bloomsbury’s new digital first imprint, Spark, and I couldn’t be happier! After about a month of contract negotiations, starring Uwe Stender (so, so grateful for his experience, tenacity, flexibility, and collaboration), I signed on the dotted line (which actually isn’t dotted, fyi) and mailed four copies of the contract to New York City in the middle of a 32-hour roadtrip.

I am thrilled that Bloomsbury Spark will be publishing YELLOW BIKE as an ebook sometime in 2015! I’ll be part of a fine community of writers with whom to network, have the full support of Bloomsbury’s international reach, and benefit from having the smart and insightful Meredith Rich at my side, helping YELLOW BIKE to be the best version of itself.

If you want to buy the book (now called SONG OF SUMMER), go here!

Needless to say, some changes will be made to this blog to make it more website-y and shouting things from the rooftops, among other things.

Want more news?
My husband and I are not doing our most excellent Shakes program (a program in which we do Shakespeare with inner-city kids) this summer. We needed a break. But we plan to be back next summer! In the meantime, I’m going to write some blogs on how we do full-length, professional-quality Shakespeare plays in the original language with a bunch of urban kids! So tell your friends, your teachers, your librarians, and your youth program organizers- maybe some of what we do can work for you.

Last year's production of Much Ado

Last year’s production of Much Ado

Much Ado show pics

Here’s a little sampling of what you would have seen, had you seen Urban Impact Shakes’ neo-folk inspired production of Much Ado About Nothing. Since these pictures are not posed (they’re from our preview performance) they may be a little out-of-focus or oddly angled. But the cool part is- every single one of these moments happened. Hope you like the show! The youngest cast member is 13, the oldest (besides Leonato, who was played by an adult) is 19.

The guys, travelling from Verona, before they start the intro song.

The guys, travelling from Verona, before they start the intro song.

Beatrice and Benedick's first skirmish of wit.

Beatrice and Benedick’s first skirmish of wit.

Benedick despising Claudio for being in love.

Benedick despising Claudio for being in love.

Claudio laughs at the Prince and Benedick. (Look in the background- Borachio is hiding in the tree!)

Claudio laughs at the Prince and Benedick. (Look in the background- Borachio is hiding in the tree!)

Leonato gets everyone ready for the masquerade.

Leonato gets everyone ready for the masquerade.

 

Beatrice makes fun of a very well-disguised Benedick.

Beatrice makes fun of a very well-disguised Benedick.

 

Conrade and Borachio watch as Don John tricks Claudio into thinking that the Prince is wooing Hero for himself- not to give her to Claudio.

Conrade and Borachio watch as Don John tricks Claudio into thinking that the Prince is wooing Hero for himself- not to give her to Claudio.

 

Beatrice and the Prince make fun of Claudio for being so melancholy.

Beatrice and the Prince make fun of Claudio for being so melancholy.

 

Leonato gives Hero to marry Claudio.

Leonato gives Hero to marry Claudio.

 

Borachio sits in the audience after successfully sharing his plan to break up Claudio and Hero's wedding.

Borachio sits in the audience after successfully sharing his plan to break up Claudio and Hero’s wedding.

 

The Prince, Leonato, and Claudio trick Benedick (who is unsuccessfully trying to hide)

The Prince, Leonato, and Claudio trick Benedick (who is unsuccessfully trying to hide)

 

Margaret, Ursula, and Hero trick Beatrice (in the trunk) into loving Benedick.

Margaret, Ursula, and Hero trick Beatrice (in the trunk) into loving Benedick.

 

Don John tells Claudio and the Prince that Hero is unfaithful.

Don John tells Claudio and the Prince that Hero is unfaithful.

 

Dogberry instructs the Watchmen on how to keep watch.

Dogberry instructs the Watchmen on how to keep watch.

 

The Watchmen overhear Borachio bragging to Conrade.

The Watchmen overhear Borachio bragging to Conrade.

Margaret, Hero, and Beatrice get ready for Hero's wedding.

Margaret, Hero, and Beatrice get ready for Hero’s wedding.

 

Leonato walks Hero down the aisle. Don John smirks because he knows what's coming.

Leonato walks Hero down the aisle. Don John smirks because he knows what’s coming.

 

The processional stops when the question, "Do you come to marry this woman?" is answered with, "No."

The processional stops when the question, “Do you come to marry this woman?” is answered with, “No.”

 

Claudio scorns Hero at the wedding.

Claudio scorns Hero at the wedding.

 

Ursula comforts Hero as the Prince accuses her.

Ursula comforts Hero as the Prince accuses her.

 

The Prince accuses Hero.

The Prince accuses Hero.

 

The Friar watches as the wedding crumbles.

The Friar watches as the wedding crumbles.

 

Benedick and Beatrice confess their love for each other.

Benedick and Beatrice confess their love for each other.

 

The Watchmen and Dogberry accuse Borachio.

The Watchmen and Dogberry accuse Borachio of slandering Hero and lying to Claudio.

 

Borachio confesses that he tricked the Prince and Claudio.

Borachio confesses that he tricked the Prince and Claudio.

 

The Watchmen and Dogberry sing at Hero's funeral.

The Watchmen and Dogberry sing at Hero’s funeral.

 

Hero's funeral.

Hero’s funeral.

 

Benedick asks Leonato for Beatrice's hand as they prepare for  another wedding.

Benedick asks Leonato for Beatrice’s hand as they prepare for another wedding.

 

Margaret plays the wedding processional.

Margaret plays the wedding processional.

 

Claudio and Hero (who is not dead!) get married for real this time.

Claudio and Hero (who is not dead!) get married for real this time.

 

Benedick proposes to Beatrice.

Benedick proposes to Beatrice.

 

She turns him down.

She turns him down.

 

Beatrice proposes to Benedick.

Beatrice proposes to Benedick.

 

He turns her down.

He turns her down.

 

They get over it.

They get over it.

 

Dogberry and the Watchmen dance everybody through the end of the show.

Dogberry and the Watchmen dance everybody through the end of the show.

 

She’s ba-ack! (until the baby arrives)

Well! I have been more than absent recently! And with good reason.
First of all, a catch-up:

* Shakes was a smashing success. Over 600 people came out to see Much Ado About Nothing over the course of our two-day run. The most common compliment was, “It gets better every year,” which is awesome, because we were afraid it couldn’t get much better than Caesar last year. Now we’re afraid that whatever comes next year will have a hard time keeping up! I’ll write more about it later.

Our inner-city neo-folk Much Ado About Nothing.

From left to right: Claudio, Hero, Borachio, Don Pedro (the Prince), Conrade, Dogberry, Benedick, Beatrice, Margaret, Leonato, Ursula, Watchman 1, Watchman 2.

* During Shakes, I changed the ending of Yellow Bike. I like it a lot more now. I also just finished an edit of it and sent it out to… somewhere. Let’s all sit back and hope for good things for Yellow Bike!

* I have not had the baby yet. Google is happily hanging out in my belly. His/her favorite things include: strawberries, ice cream, Chinese donuts (you know, from Asian buffets?) and keeping me awake with his/her antics all night long. Google is due on September 12th, but now that I’ve finished that Yellow Bike edit, that baby is welcome any time!

* Starting today, I will try to be a better blogger. I just really had to get that Yellow Bike edit done. Now that it’s done, I can blog ’til my heart’s content!

All Pennwriters Eve

Tomorrow’s the day!

I have my pages printed out. I have more pages (and entire books) in a special file on my jump drive. I have the most beautiful God-given query ever (check out my updated Yellow Bike page to see the pitch!). I have the most beautiful business cards ever, designed by my talented husband. I have workshop names scratched in my day planner in brown extra-fine Sharpie. I am so ready for this.

After a friend’s recent critique of Bleeder, I’ve decided to take it too! As part of the conference, I get a one-on-one session with an industry professional and I want to pick his or her brain about my beloved acid-blood disease book.

One thing I’m a little concerned about: I have ten minutes to do my pitch for a blind pitch panel.

My reaction to that: TEN MINUTES?! In acting, at a regional cattle call, if you’re singing AND acting, you get 90 seconds. 90 seconds. Most of my audition monologues are about that long. Directors know after about 20 seconds whether they want you or not, just like agents know after the first paragraph of your query if they’re interested. What the heck am I going to do for ten minutes? Tap dance?! I’ve been in plays shorter than that! Any suggestions? It’s the first thing tomorrow morning!

Off to google “How to pitch your book in ten minutes…”

I’ll let you know how the whole thing goes!