Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

sherylmeI’m in the “air lock” room, waiting for everyone to get in and fill the elevator-size space. Even in dim light, I know it’s untidy, well used. A fat electrical cord stretches across the black floor.
“When I open the door,” the Director says, “follow me, watch for cords.” The next room was dark, too, but opened to a stage flooded with blue lights. In the ninety-four-year-old theater, constant current activity apparently cloaked the expected smell of antiquity. We followed the director across the stage to the opposite wings.
“You will wait here until time to enter. Remember if you can see the audience, they can see you.”
How did I end up here? My friend Sheryl, a mystery writer, and I came to see Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution. Out of my program fell a jury summons? I, along with five other audience members, would spend most of the play on stage as jurors. “These are NOT speaking parts,” the director emphasized with a smile. We would sit in the jury box the rest of the play except for a fade out when the scene would be briefly switched. We had watched the first act from comfy theater seats.
The Wayne Densch Performing Arts Theater is in downtown Sanford, Florida, a small town on Lake Monroe, and north of Orlando. Charming, cozy, comfortable and small-town friendly, it is a jewel in the historic town. We walked by art galleries, quaint shops, cozy restaurants and an open farmer’s market on the way to the theater.
My fellow jurors were great fun, improvising “non-speaking” ways to relate to the audience, but in the end, we followed the rules. We were older except for one young, high school student with a spiked, blond hairstyle. He takes acting classes, so backstage was probably not new to him. He volunteered to run back for the water bottle I left in the lobby during recess and offered me his chair backstage, winning big points for the younger generation.
Another in the young generation was the actor who played court clerk. After the play was over, bows were taken and curtains closed we exited the jury box. The clerk was there to take the hands of ladies and help us down. Perhaps he’s a method actor who really gets into his parts, but I think he was just a well-bred young gentleman.
The actors were lined on both sides as we left the theater, happy to shake our hands and talk.
Did I forget the play? Not intentionally. It’s just that my “role” added such a dimension to the experience. The actors were all local and amazing, so much so that it was easy to forget they weren’t real as they pleaded with the jurors.
The Director asked us after the play if we figured the murderer out. I did. But I missed one clever clue Miss Christi slipped in. He also told us she added to the ending of the play because she thought the murderer got off too lightly in her story.
Some days are absolutely magical. This was one of them.

Read Full Post »

Friday 56

Dust Tracks on a Road

Zora Neale Hurston

Page 55-56

“Having finished that and scanned the Doctor Book, which my mother thought she had hidden securely from my eyes, I read all the things which children write on privy-house walls. Therefore, I lost my taste for pornographic literature. I think that the people who love it got cheated in the matter of privy houses when they were children.”

This is a meme from “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” blog.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

Read Full Post »

I was in the window seat, first row behind the bulkhead on Texas-bound Southwest last weekend when the darling(!) flight attendant grabbed the carry-on at my feet.

“I must stow this overhead until we reach 10,000 feet. Then I get it for you.”

I was begging, arms outstretched, but he is fast. “But my Kindle is in there.”

“You’ll have it back in a few minutes.”

A few minutes turned into an hour and a half. There was no let up in turbulence. No drinks nor snacks nor bathroom trips—nor Kindle. The elderly man in the middle seat and his wife next to him would be my only source of entertainment while we gyrated through the spin cycle. Her only comment before she leaned back and handed him over was, “He’s a talker.” She forgot to say, “and spitter.” He was very nice, and happy to share with me his every ailment and every ailment of friends and family.

Finally my Kindle was delivered to me, along with juice and peanuts and crackers. During the final strap down for landing I grew more interested in the couple to our right talking to the attendants. They were adventurers heading to Big Bend Park for a week. He used to sing, he said, all over Europe, mostly Italy, mostly opera. And then he began to sing in his beautiful baritone. I gasped and said to no one in particular, wish he had done that the whole trip. Wife of spitter leaned forward and said, “ME, TOO!”

This was my first flight after turning seventy-five and I enjoyed getting to leave my jacket and shoes on at the TSA screening. I had learned from the website that they make the determination about your age visually, so it was a bit disconcerting that no one questioned me. However, in San Antonio, the first agent asked for my driver’s license and another stopped me after the naked scan and pointed to my shoes. I told him my age, and he checked where the first agent had stamped my boarding pass, and said, “And I was going to ask you out.” I suggest they place at least one Latino man at every screening station. They know how to make you feel good.

The following day forty or fifty close friends and family gathered in a private room to surprise my adorable niece on her fiftieth birthday. The restaurant in New Braunfels is a converted post office filled with charm. Brenda said later she was surprised, but thought something was up. When I stepped from behind the person in front of her and her blue eyes grew wide and mouth stopped working, I knew her daughter had pulled off one surprise.

My sister and I were escorted to the party by her first and second ex-husband. He claims he was drunk the second time and thought she was another woman. That’s the kind of family I come from.

Once the cat was out of the bag, Brenda and I could spend time together—and we did—along with four of her grandbabies, my sister, niece, nephews. . . you get the picture.

At my sister’s I had tamales for breakfast—eight of them, and I’m not sorry. Then there was my nephew Anthony’s amazing venison jerky. Who knew I liked jerky? Good wine. Oh, and even Strawberry Boones Farm Brenda and her high school friend brought “for old time’s sake.” Let me tell you, it still tastes good.

Once I made it back to my home Tuesday I had one hour to shower, dress and get to the monthly writers meeting, and made it. I got home a little more than twelve hours after leaving Texas that morning, but it was all worth it.  

Read Full Post »

“Oh no! I’d never spend a few years writing a novel,” Josh Boone said.
He was doing a Q&A at a screening for his soon to be released movie, “Stuck in Love.” Some of the invited writers gasped. Did he just say that? So screenwriting is easier for him than a novel? Interesting.
That was only one of the gems we picked up from the experience. Fern Goodman, Larry Leech and I were glad we made the effort after receiving an invitation though Florida Writers Association. Craig Evans, publicist, thought writers would enjoy the film because “Stuck in Love” is about a family of writers. Greg Kinear is the award winning novelist, and his son and daughter both write. The daughter’s boyfriend even writes. Quotes from well known authors are peppered throughout the movie, including one by a favorite of mine, Flannery O’Connor. The son’s (Nat Wolff) fascination with Stephen King is a feeling most of us share about at least one particular writer. There was so much to identify with whether you are a writer or reader.
Yes, the movie is about young love, but not exclusively. Somehow they made a movie all ages can relate to.
Josh Boone and Nat Wolff were charming at the Q&A. Josh even gave us a peek into himself with confessions about why he wrote certain scenes and created the ending he did. They were warm and funny. If we get a chance to attend another screening we certainly will. Movies have to start with a script, and there is so much to learn from a creative mind like Josh Boone’s. Writers, next time you receive an invitation like this, GO!

Read Full Post »

It’s the only thing that works for me – visualization. When I really don’t want to go to the gym and even putting on workout clothes to shame myself doesn’t do the trick, I think of the pole vaulter. He stands there with pole held in starting position. He’s all dressed and ready to go, but not yet. First he visualizes himself springing into that first step, then the next and the next and finally he sees himself planting the pole and rising in the air. You see the mental preparation in his eyes as they switch focus. And then he takes off.

 

That’s exactly what I have to do. I see myself getting my yoga bag ready, putting it in the car, backing out of the driveway, pulling into the parking lot, checking in at the desk and entering the darkened yoga studio. I CAN DO THIS! And it usually works. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all that visual preparation burned calories and built muscles? No, for that we have to spring into that first step. 

Read Full Post »

I am spoiled. For almost thirty-seven years I’ve enjoyed a bucolic view from my large living room window. Behind my solid wood, vine covered fence another home has for that time either been occupied by quiet people or vacant and crumbling. No more. Now it hums with chain saws, thuds with hammers, vibrates with rap music.

Did I mention the Vegas light show? Okay, they aren’t neon and don’t flash, but new ones seem to go up each day, as do out buildings. Another new roof is taking shape today. Soon, there won’t be an inch of lawn in that plot of almost an acre. The trees are long gone.

The first construction was an eight foot solid wood fence for all but a small strip right behind my house. Next a screened pool enclosure. Some time in there the private dirt road leading to the house was paved. The road dead ends at the fence in my side yard.

I gave their landscaper permission to cut the limbs on my trees that hung over the fence. It’s the law, so I get no points here. I did allow him to come in my yard and cut the errant limbs back to the trunk. He kindly offered to pull potato vines and take down a little bamboo. That sounded fine until I see about a fifteen or twenty foot swath of cleared land this side of the fence. But this is bamboo. That won’t last long. I’ve always hated the invasive stuff, but now am happy for a buffer.

I know they got the house for a song, but somebody has money to burn. It needed a new septic tank and water supply for starters.
Who are these people? I don’t know. I see people on the roofs a lot, but don’t know if they are workers or live there. Property records show it owned by an LLC, which owns property all over the U.S. and the Cayman Islands. So no name to call, no way to discuss things unless I climb an eight foot fence or scale the solid electric gate that blocks their drive. This is a compound.

A cop early on stopped them from throwing trash over the fence. Then a couple of weeks ago I called again. I refused to be run out of my house a second time because of a loud party. That day the music was loud enough for to hear over the leaf blower a guy was using on the roof. Guess he never heard of earphones. My house was vibrating so badly with the rap beat my cats hunkered in the hallway as they do for a thunderstorm. Earlier neighbors two blocks away told me they were hearing the music. I don’t think the sound lowered when he finished with the leaf blower. It stopped abruptly, though, about 9:15 p.m. when the cops arrived and I haven’t heard it again, but who knows.

I should be happy they have fixed up the abandoned property, and cleaned up the mosquito breeding pool, but I long for the day I looked over the fence and saw only trees, heard only birds and the rustling of leaves on the trees.

Read Full Post »

Writers who need writers are the luckiest people in the world, and I just spent three days with about six hundred writers, agents, publishers and editors. At the core they are all writers. I can’t tell you how many times we talked for ten or fifteen minutes before I discovered the writer was also one of the above. Each time I would think, but these are nice people, they actually want to find authors to represent or publish! Where are the ogres we are so afraid of? As a matter of fact, probably a third of those I talked with at the table or in the hall turned out to be there presenting, interviewing, and actively looking for talent. Someone remarked it was the only conference he had been to where presenters, exhibitors and member mingled. Come to think of it, that has been my experience, too.

I’m hesitant to single anyone out because there were too many contacts to mention all, but you know I will. One of the first I met was Lynn Price, Behler Publications, sitting next to me at lunch. She is an award-winning author as well. She would give the rousing closing keynote speech Sunday. More about Lynn later.

Saritza Hernandez was just another fascinating writer who turned out also to be an e-pub agent with L. Perkins Agency. She served on the experts panel discussion, which was worth the price of the conference.

While getting a breath of fresh air on the patio, someone spoke to me in a soft, lilting Southern voice. She asked the usual, “what genre do you write?”. I gave the elevator pitch I have been formulating, “Short stories, Southern literature mostly.”
She told me she writes Southern novels, and had a new release, “Momma’s Comfort Food.” It’s a novel, but peppered with food and recipes because readers want to know how to make the dishes that figure in the story. We talked about Southern food and the tendency of those not from the South to not realize this is how we REALLY talk, think, and turn a phrase. After that Rhett LeVane could not hide her excitement about a Southern novel (Catfish Alley) of a new author she recently reviewed for Southern Literary Review. Be still my heart! So after Googling Rhett, I must add several of her books to my Kindle library, as well as the new novelist she highly recommends.

Joan Levy and I have a habit of snagging solo conference attendees and bringing them to our table before they can think. After all, that’s how we met. One of the first was Cristina Kessler, writer of nine children’s books published by Penguin. She inserts various African and other languages into the stories so the children can learn a little of another language. Cristina and her husband lived in various African countries for twenty-eight years while with the Peace Corp and Care America. They live in the Virgin Islands now.

This is where publisher Lynn Price comes in. She was at our table again sitting next to Cristina. She has asked to see her new travel guide and a couple of other young adult books of hers which are now out of print. I’ve heard several stories of this nature that occurred at the conference. It doesn’t hurt that Cristina’s book won first place in RPLA for non-fiction travel.
At closing ceremony Cristina won free registration for next year’s conference in the drawing today. She was on the fence about next year, but not now. Is it luck or did she make her own luck. Maybe a little of each.
Linda terBurg, what a warm, interesting person. Linda is a marketing specialist I had the opportunity to sit by a couple of times. Her presentation was inspiring. If only I had something ready to market.

I know I am sprinkling in a mix of writers and professionals, but that was the nature of the conference. Kate LeSar is an instant friend type. She was published in the collections book and won an RPLA award. It was great to celebrate with her at our table. Kate has trained nonliterate midwives in Afghanistan, taught health care workers in Calcutta and run a nursing home for Armenians in Boston. We had a lot to talk about there.

I have to stop somewhere, so it will be here. At the awards banquet they called the name Helen Parramore for an RPLA award. I know her! Well, not really. I have yellowed copies of her “My Word” columns (longer letters to the editor) from years back, but we’ve never met. She’s a retired educator is all I know about her besides what she reveals in her op ed pieces. I’ve been her biggest unknown fan. Today I searched for backs of heads (which was the only view I got of her last night) and of course, checked name tags. I ran into a couple of people who know her. It was one of those “she was just here” things. Alas, we never connected. I think she will get the word though that she’s a rock star to me. If I remember right, she moved from the house with the purple door, but I hope her new home has one, too. It suits the Helen I know and don’t know.

Come to think of it, a purple door suits most writers I met the last few days. Until next year. . .

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »